PUNCHY, playful and gloriously irreverent, The Stranglers were on top form on Thursday night. Never, ever boring, the foursome have been honing their stagecraft for more than 30 years – and it showed.

As the band rattled through a weighty back catalogue, a rapturous audience of late-40-somethings pogoed away like it was 1978 all over again.

Even without lead singer Hugh Cornwell, who left in 1990, the band still had all The Stranglers swagger their fans love so much.

Backed by a giant screen of futuristic visuals, they pounded out gutbusting rhythms peppered with ghostly ballads.

Legendary bassist JJ Burnel was at the heart of everything, driving the story forward with heavy hammer blows, while singer Baz Warne spat the lyrics out like poison pellets.

At times keyboardist Dave Greenfield, a Brighton boy himself, seemed on a different planet altogether, staring vacantly out into the audience while he tested the amps with searing sound effects.

Of course the chart favourites Peaches and Golden Brown were eagerly awaited, but the band were also able to flex their musical muscles with songs old and new.

These old stagers, determined not to grow old gracefully, were a class act all the way.