TRADITIONALLY the last date of the tour, The Stranglers added an extra date, making this show at the Manchester Academy the penultimate date.

Naturally, the auditorium was packed out with fans of the band that was once reviled but is now respected.

As the now-familiar strains of Waltz in Black were broadcast, the new lighting system started a count from 1974 to 2013 to show just how long the band have been going – and Dave Greenwood’s keyboards bore the message ‘We’re Nearly There’ – no doubt alluding to the band’s 40th anniversary next year.

An impressive total of 25 songs were played, some old, and some new, some well-known and some lesser-known ones; all of which were greatly appreciated by the throng of fans.

Missing at the start was drummer jet Black, whose age and health mean that he doesn’t always play the full set.

Stand-in tub-thumper Jim Macaulay proved his worth for most of the gig until the biggest cheers of the night greeted the elder statesman of rock as jet took his rightful place behind the drum-kit for the last ten numbers.

Most of the biggest hits were played with the breakthrough hit Peaches coming roughly third of the way into the set.

And of course they couldn’t leave out Golden Brown, No More Heroes and Duchess.

The newer numbers such as Time Was Once On My Side, Norfolk Coast and Freedom Is Insane were given an outing, and all stood up well beside the more established tracks like Toiler On The Sea and Bring On The Nubiles.

The song Mercury Rising from the latest album stood out as one of the better songs they have done.

Most of the vocals were handled by guitarist Baz Warne, who overcame the disappointment of his beloved Sunderland being beaten by Manchester United earlier in the day.

Bassist J J Burnel prowled the stage looking his usual, menacing self and Dev Greenfield, as well as the additional vocal interjections during Always the Sun, sang lead on Genetix.

As usual, the atmosphere was great and the Men In Black were on top form.

Next year is the band’s 40th anniversary – hopefully they will celebrate with a tour – but how about playing a bigger venue eh?

How about The Apollo? You would fill it easily.