Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Sun 5 May.
Hugh Cornwell and his band kick off this Sunday night show, fittingly, with the opening song from Monster, his latest album. Pure Evel gets things going, and this is followed by Leave Me Alone and I Want One of Those, a couple of Cornwell’s earlier solo efforts. “You may, or may not, have heard any of those songs before,” he says, metaphorically doffing his cap to The Stranglers fans in the audience. It’s realistic, but in these three songs Cornwell demonstrates that his songwriting skills didn’t leave him when he left The Stranglers. It’s back to the present from there, and the title track from the new album follows. The modest crowd is warming to the set, cheering when the album is name-checked. The remainder of the 55-minute set contains a mix of Cornwell’s solo work, with the new songs making up around half the setlist. He’s not saying a lot but is happy to chat about Ray Harryhausen and Hedy Lamarr, reflecting his passion for cinema. Highlights from the first stanza include the opener, Stuck in Daily Mail Land and Bilko. Overall, it’s been a solid and most enjoyable performance.
The second set features Cornwell performing a dozen songs made famous by The Stranglers, and the audience seems that little bit more engaged. Predictably, the set begins with Nuclear Device (The Wizard Of Aus) from 1979’s The Raven. The songs are different to their recorded versions, due in no small part to the absence of the keyboard that was a big part of the band’s signature sound, however they are every bit as engaging and interesting. A great example is Golden Brown, a song that is presented without the keys but with much aplomb. The quality of this set is due to the execution by Cornwell, Pat Hughes (bass) and birthday boy Windsor McGilvray (drums). Both Hughes and McGilvray add much to the songs with their backing vocals. It’s a full sound.
Most of the big numbers are there; Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Peaches, No More Heroes, the magnificent Duchess and Hanging Around are all gratefully received by the ever-more enthusiastic crowd.
Rather than waste everyone’s time with a pretend goodbye and then a laboured encore, Cornwell explains after Duchess that the show is sort of over, but they will do their two-song encore before leaving the stage. He says he’s losing his voice, but he’s been in good form tonight. Hanging Around and Tank close the show.
It can be tough, trying to present yourself as a contemporary artist while still respecting the fact that many of your audience are there because they really dug your old band, but Cornwell has pulled this off without any worries at all. His new album is great, and his take on the old songs keeps them fresh while still scratching that 40-year old itch.
by David Robinson
Image courtesy of David Robinson