Missing hits disappoints at Stranglers Hugh Cornwell Newbury gig
Hugh Cornwell Electric, at Arlington Arts, on Thursday, April 7. Review by BRIAN HARRINGTON
HUGH Cornwell achieved fame as the frontman of punk pioneers The Stranglers, in my opinion, one of the most innovative bands of the genre. It is possibly less common knowledge that since leaving The Stranglers in 1990 he has recorded eight solo albums.
Tonight was, broadly speaking, divided in two. Before the interval was mainly solo material, while the second half was devoted to Stranglers tracks.
Opening with Black Hair, Black Eyes, Black Suit from his 1999 album of the same name he launched straight into Big Bug from his 1979 album Nosferatu, which was a collaboration with Robert Williams, the drummer of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band.
Sadly, for me, the somewhat muddy quality of the vocals did not match the precision of Cornwell’s lead guitar or, indeed, the extremely tight bass and percussion rhythm section. That said, I loved Mr Leather, a track about Lou Reed from his latest album Monster (2018).
After the break, it was all about Hugh’s Stranglers career. There was an interesting – and very effective – rearrangement of Strange Little Girl, as well as Always The Sun, Hanging Around and Skin Deep, but the show ended, without an encore, with 5 Minutes, a track originally sung by bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel.
Hits like Peaches, Golden Brown, No More Heroes and Something Better Change were all absent, which seemed odd and after the show I heard some describe it as “underwhelming”, a thought which had crossed my own mind.
In summary, I feel that while there was much that was excellent, particularly in the arrangements and instrumentation, the choice of tracks included and excluded from the setlist was peculiar and left some of the near capacity audience wondering why their favourite songs were omitted.