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STRANGLERS IN CONTRAST

You wouldn’t expect England’s Stranglers to seem too thrilled about playing in Hollywood. After all, here’s a band that once wrote a song about our charming burg titled “Dead Loss Angeles.”

Yet, at the Palladium on Friday, the quartet (augmented by a three-man horn section) cheerfully offered 90 minutes of bright, upbeat songs drawn from its decade’s worth of distinctive punk and post-punk material.

But lest anyone mistake this outfit as just another KROQ party band, the Stranglers still presented themselves as the “Meninblack” both sartorially and topically, generally painting a bleak view of the social-political landscape. Such nominally optimistic songs as the lovely “Always the Sun” merely provided a glimmer of hope in the overwhelming darkness.

And maybe the band--making its first local appearance in three years-- wasn’t really happy to be here: In between-song remarks, gruff-voiced guitarist/singer Hugh Cornwell chided the full house about such things as its restrained behavior and the local weather.

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The Stranglers’ attitude was underscored in the recent song “Big in America,” a brutally unflattering assessment of the meaning of fame in the U.S. Against this, the band’s eager-to-please stance seemed like a sarcastic put-on--entertaining though it was.

Second-billed Red Lorry Yellow Lorry made a perfect complement to the Stranglers with an approach that was relentlessly dense and dark, but nonetheless invigorating.


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