As a teenager Baz Warne remembers getting the bus into Sunderland to buy his first Stranglers album - now he’s performing that same record at the helm of the iconic band.
Baz, 51, has been the lead singer in The Stranglers for 16 years, but their forthcoming tour will be one with extra significance.
Next week, the four-piece will hit the road with their Black and White tour, which will see them play the 1978 album of the same name in its entirety.
“I was 14 when that album came out,” recalls Baz, who was raised in Thornhill. “I remember getting the bus into town to buy it at The Spinning Disc record shop. It was a great shop, next to The Old 29 near The Londonderry. Back then, you had one of the best record shops next to the best music venue.
“It was actually my first Stranglers record and signposted me to the first two. It was a seminal record in the new wave movement, it saw them break away from punk, if you can call The Stranglers punk.
“The first two albums were released quite quickly, but the band decamped to a lodge in Wales to make this one, It was a starker, harsher album, it was very innovative.”
He added: “As well as the next release The Raven, it’s regarded as the band’s creative peak.”
Listening to the record as a schoolboy, Baz never dreamed he would one day be standing in the same spot as Hugh Cornwell in the role of lead singer in the band whose hits include Golden Brown and No More Heroes.
“I’ve been with the band for nearly 16 years now, but every now and again I do pinch myself,” he said.
The Black and White tour begins on March 3 and takes them around the country, with a gig at Newcastle’s O2 Academy on March 9.
It’s the first time the band will have played the ground-breaking album, which reached no 2 in the UK album chart, in its entirety on tour.
Tracks include Tank, Toiler on the Sea, Nice n Sleazy and their cover version of the Bacharach and David classic Walk On By, which in 2014 was voted number 3 in the BBC Music Top 50 greatest cover versions.
Baz said: “A lot of people had asked about us doing it because performing albums in their entirety is very in vogue at the minute. We’ve done a lot of ground work preparing for the tour, we’ve really caned it.
“It takes about 45 minutes back-to-back to perform, so the rest of the set will be other tracks.”
Speaking about the band’s popularity 40 years after they burst onto the scene, he said: “A lot of the gigs on the tour are close to selling out, which never ceases to amaze me.
“I don’t think the band thought they’d last 40 minutes, never mind 40 years. Like most bands of that vintage they’ve had their peaks and troughs, and the ‘90s was a low point, but they’ve never split up and got back together just for the cash, like their peers. Music is an evocative medium. People have long memories and appreciate the old material, but we don’t rely on nostalgia. We do plenty of new material too.”
l Tickets for The Stranglers tour are available from www.gigsandtours.com / 0844 811 0051