Stranglers to play Sheffield’s 02 Academy

The Stranglers have live dates in Nottingham and Sheffield this year

The Stranglers have live dates in Nottingham and Sheffield this year

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The Stranglers – usually known as The Men in Black - are The Men in Black and White on their current tour.

The band are performing their 1978 album Black and White in its entirety.

March has now become the traditional month for the band’s annual UK tour which visits Sheffield’s 02 Academy on Thursday, March 17.

Strangely enough, the album isn’t celebrating any particular anniversary, but founder-member and bassist JJ Burnel explains why they are performing this, their third, album.

“It’s because it signified the departure from our earlier sound,” he said. “The first two (Rattus Norvegicus and No More Heroes) were effectively recorded at the same sessions and were basically our live set. But Black and White was when we started exploring and fulfilling our potential.

“It was our ‘post-punk’ album and we were developing as writers and performers.

“At the time, it was a commercial risk, but we were a lot younger and didn’t care.”

The risk paid off and the album got to number two in the charts.

The album contains some of the all-time Stranglers’ classics like Tank, Toiler on the Sea and Nice n Sleazy as well as the band’s excellent cover of Bacharach and David’s ‘Walk on By’, which was voted number three in BBC Music’s Top 50 Greatest Cover Version poll.

And with a surfeit of brilliance, JJ understandably finds it difficult to pick out any stand-out tracks.

“To be honest, I’m too involved with them, I think they’re all fantastic and I’ve fallen in love with them again he said.

JJ and bandmates Dave Greenfield on keyboards, Baz Warne on guitars and Jim McCauley standing in for Jet Black on drums, rehearsed hard for the tour.

He said: “In order to do the Black and White album you have to get in the headspace of 35 years ago. It’s really edgy.

“Then there was the discovery of coming face to face with your younger self.”

As well as the album, The Stranglers are playing a selection of carefully selected tracks from their long and illustrious career.

“It’s quite different,” says JJ, “and not what people expect.”

The band’s plans for later in the year include a tour of Australia and New Zealand and festivals in the summer.

“Then there’s the new album,” said JJ. “We’ve started work on it, but we’ve got a bit distracted by the touring - hopefully it’ll be out next year.”