By Jon Perks

If life does indeed begin at 40, Stranglers fans are in for a treat in the coming years.

The band’s current Ruby tour is not a sentimental re-hash of past glories but a vivid celebration of their eclectic and extensive back catalogue, spanning 17 studio albums and five decades.

As promised, fans got a track off every album – and then some.

From set opener London Lady (off their debut Rattus Norvegicus) to final encore Tank, this was a 30 song salvo peppered with the ‘must play’ classics (No More Heroes, Duchess, Always The Sun, Golden Brown, Peaches) alongside some lesser gems such as Threatened (from 1978 album Black and White), Valley of The Birds (from 1997‘s Written In Red) and Lowlands off their most recent release in 2012, Giants.

Guitarist Baz Warne snarled and gurned, bassist JJ Burnel strutted as the sweaty mob in front of them lapped up every minute. While Brummie drummer Jim MacAulay was excellent, his temporary break to make way for the band’s original sticksman Jet Black was greeted with universal – and noisy – approval.

Black only lasted three songs, but his briefest of cameos was enough for the die-hards.

A packed-out main room at the Academy – men, women and teens – is surely evidence enough that the Meninblack are as popular as ever – and they sound as good as ever.

Let’s hope they’re soon booking their return in 12 months’ time.