Hugh Cornwell Islington Academy

Hugh Cornwell Islington AcademyThere’s no messing about with ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell: he’s a no-nonsense guy who simply stands on stage and delivers – and brilliantly so.
Barely making a “Hi, great to see you all” introduction and supported only by Steve Lawrence on bass and Chris Bell on drums, Mr. Cornwell performed his acclaimed solo album ‘Guilty’ in its entirety, kicking off with ‘One Burning Desire’.
Despite the unusually early show time of 7.30pm (most folks would barely have finished their dinner by then), the venue was pretty much full. That’s proper rock ‘n’ roll spirit: to hell with dinner and lets all rock instead!
Rather unusual was the way the show was split, namely with Hugh Cornwell performing the ‘Guilty’ album first, followed by a set by The Brothers Of Brazil and then it was back to Hugh Cornwell again for the performance of some of the most popular Stranglers epics – voted for online by his fans.

Next came ‘Nerves Of Steel’ and ‘Black Hair Black Eyes Black Suit’ from his solo album, with Steve and Chris equally focusing on their instruments and songs. Hugh’s vocals were tops, as was his guitar play. “If you don’t know the songs from the ‘Guilty’ album… too bad” addressed Hugh his audience in a sober manner. “It’s available to buy at the merchandise stall” and then he continued with ‘Hot Head’ and ‘Endless Day Endless Night’.
There was little communication with his fans, instead, Hugh simply announced the next numbers and played them well. Here is an artist who is in no need of additional gimmicks, for his music and acerbic and witty lyrics speak for themselves, as demonstrated in the excellent ‘House Of Sorrow’ (which still was performed cheerful and upbeat enough for the crowd to rhythmically engage in it):

“A dirty broom an empty room you'll never find a better tomb
The passing of a lasting chill a night a day and time stands still
The walls just stand their stories cold they watch a history unfold
The sink is dry the fat don't fry and still the reasons pass you by
When will the troubled soul descend and make amends?
When will some laughter come alive?
And walk inside walk inside walk inside
A house of sorrow is a halfway house
A house of sorrow is a halfway house.”

It was also the closing track from Cornwell’s first set, and after cheering applause and a break, on came The Brothers Of Brazil - aka brothers Supla and Joao - who entertained the audience with their eclectic mix of punk, samba and classic bossa nova.

Then it was time for Hugh again, to perform what his fans wanted to hear: a selection of The Stranglers greats including ‘The Raven’, ‘Down In The Sewer’,’ Always The Sun’, ‘Toiler On The Sea’ and ‘Walking On The Beaches’ - which had a great bass solo thrown in.
Other highlights included the Hal David/Burt Bacharach penned song ‘Walk On By’ (which was a huge hit for Aretha Franklin in 1970) and ‘Strange Little Girl’ which Hugh performed as a wonderful acoustic version.
However, the final number of the evening simply had to be the ultimate Stranglers anthem ‘No More Heroes’ and for this, the crowd went wild like in the good old days.


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