It is my first time attending Thebarton Theatre since moving to Adelaide just over a year ago. It is also my first time seeing The Stranglers and The Ruts DC. It is a night of ‘firsts’ for me as I am not drinking alcohol at this show. The only liquid that hits my lips is the cold water that Thebarton Theatre provides for punters in the foyer.

After a week of intense hot weather in Adelaide, tonight sees a welcome cool change blow in but I notice that many punters have opted for thongs and sandals. A choice that is quite brave considering the jumping around and slam dancing that will occur during the show.

When The Ruts DC stride onto the stage, singer/bassist John ‘Segs’ Jennings addresses the audience asking people to “Come in from the bar.” The room starts to fill up with warm bodies and there are quite a few Ruts’ fans keen to see this highly influential and politically charged band strut their stuff.

The Ruts DC do not disappoint, playing songs such as Babylon’s Burning, Staring at the Rude Boys, In a Rut and the political dub anthem Jah War from their 1979 album The Crack. Jennings, guitarist Leigh Heggarty and drummer Dave Ruffy give the performance their all and the audience dance up a storm in appreciation of their efforts.

Waiting for The Stranglers to appear I notice that there are a lot of shaved/bald heads toward the front wearing Stranglers’ band t-shirts. This is the uniform it seems of dedicated Stranglers’ fans. The ‘Strangler Fan Contingent’ mark out their spots right in front of the band. They are ready to punk out.

Along with this contingent is another kind of gang. The ‘let’s watch a gig through our mobile phone cameras’ gang. I feel like smacking their phones to the ground, but I restrain myself from committing such an act and am reminded of that famous Isaac Asimov quote: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

The Stranglers start their set with Get a Grip on Yourself, a single from their debut album Rattus Norvegicus (1977). Singer/guitarist Baz Warne shares with the excited crowd that their driver for this tour is an Adelaide boy who told him that “Nobody goes to fuckin’ Adelaide anymore” due to lack of ticket sales. Warne quips: “But this is proof.” It’s true that The Stranglers do have a solid following in Adelaide and the turn-out is very impressive.

The band, including original members Dave Greenfield (keyboard) JJ Burnel (bass) and touring drummer Jim Macauley play an array of material including crowd favourites Always the Sun, Golden Brown, a version of Walk on By and 5 Minutes. Not surprisingly, when The Stranglers finish their set and walk off stage, they are summoned back by the crowd and play an encore comprising of Duchess and No More Heroes. They are in fine form.

It’s during the encore that a bald, rather tall man in front of me and another shorter bald man almost get into a fight when some slam dancing kicks off. Fortunately, the taller man’s girlfriend calms him down. I had already stepped back lest I get smacked in the face by a swinging arm. The threat of violence aside, it’s a great gig and a good introduction to ‘the Thebby’ as it is affectionately known by Adelaideans.

Review by Romana Ashton