Every article these days has to contain a multitude of statistical information so here goes. How many years since Hugh Cornwell visited Vancouver? Answer: 23. How old is Hugh Cornwell? Answer: 57. When did he leave the Stranglers? Answer: 1990. What was the average age of the Media Club Audience? Answer: 75. Well if you’re paying attention that’s obviously an exaggeration but there couldn’t have been more than a handful of people under 35 years at Hugh’s solo acoustic show at The Media Club on Mar 23, 2006.
Hard to believe I was actually listening to live acoustic versions of Stranglers’ songs intermingled with songs off Hugh’s latest release “Beyond Elysian Fields” (actually released in Oct 2004 which in itself is a year and a half ago) 30 years on.
There were always 4 bands, which to my mind remain archetypal English punk icons.
The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Boomtown Rats (Don’t believe me listen to their 1st CD produced by our future Mr. Shania Twain “Mutt Lange”) and last but not least “The Stranglers”. They really weren’t true punks (whatever that means) since they were all at the time quite a bit older than the rest of their peers and had started off as a pub rock band. Step up Mr Joe Strummer of the 101ers
Still Ratticus Norvegicus 1V remains a high water mark of the 1976 musical storm that raged over England for a brief period. The Stranglers are still going today albeit with a new vocalist and their staying power is really a tribute to their continued musical progression (The Meninblack anyone?) through the years.
Hugh is remarkably well preserved, looking fit, sipping water he mixed up the Strangler’s hits (opener “Nice and Sleazy does it every time”) with songs from the latest release and it worked well. Crowd singalongs on “Hanging Around” with immaculately picked solo, “Always the Sun”, “No More Heroes” highlighted the fact that there’s a deep catalogue of catchy tunes and choruses that Hugh and gang wrote during their 16 years together. The new songs meshed well with the old and familiar still displaying that trademark wit combined with some unique subject matter e.g. Harry Power, Ned Kelly's mentor so to speak and a humorous song about artist Henry Moore.
Opener Rich Hope managed to drown out the chattering class with some manic, guitar strumming, finger-pickin', stomping, acoustic blues and drew appropriate hoots and hollers. Well worth checking out.
Lastly a shout out to James and his crew who were following the Hugh Cornwell show with Walter Trout at The Yale and then Deus at The Red Room all in one night. Now that’s hardcore and these guys weren’t 20 years old either!
Hugh Cornwell Stranglers Joe Strummer Clash Mutt Lange Boomtown Rats Rich Hope