Hugh Cornwell in Toronto

December 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Me and the Stranglers go way back. One of the first punk records I heard was “Peaches.” I was listening to the top twenty countdown on Radio 1 and it came on: Whaat? Of course I didn’t understand half of it, but I knew it was nothing like I’d heard on the radio. Ah, the innocence of youth. The following year, Black and White was the first real record I bought, not a greatest hits album, but a real record. Later that year I bought my first copy of the New Musical Express (which I read religiously for the next three years) because the Stranglers were on the cover. Finally, when I went to my first concert, it was the Stranglers on the Raven tour. Yup. They were my favourite band. So, even though I was sick, I dragged myself out to see former Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell at Lee’s last Sunday night.

First though, a mention about one of my favourite local bands, Arson. When Arson took the stage about sixty people were hanging out, but the number quickly doubled. The crowd responded energetically as Arson gave their usual journeyman-like  performance; straight ahead punk rock without the frills.  Arson will likely never be millionaires, but it’s just as likely they don’t care. If this sounds like special pleading, it probably is: support local bands; go and buy their album Not Always About You (at the show it was half-price, so you missed out!)

Hugh Cornwell took the stage along with his bass player and drummer at 10:15, announcing that his plan was to play most of his new album Totem and Taboo and a lot of Stranglers songs – “something for everybody.”

The band began with the title track from the new album, and it was quickly evident that Cornwell had continued  with that “Stranglers” sound: Understand lead guitar, muscular bass, and pounding drums. Everything but the keyboards, which had the effect of making the songs sound punkier. Throughout the set, Cornwell alternated between new stuff and old Stranglers songs playing tracks from Black and White,  Rattus Novegicus, The Raven and more. I’ll admit that I had stopped following the Stranglers even before Cornwell left, and apart from Hoover dam, I was pretty much unfamiliar with his solo work; however, a curious thing happened at the show. While I wanted to hear those old Stranglers song, the new stuff was just as interesting.  

Near the start, Cornwell thanked us for coming out on a “school night,” and at the end of the evening we didn’t get detention, but a tasty two song encore: “Grip” and “No More Heroes.”


Totem and Taboo
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
I want one too
Stuck in Daily Mail Land
Hanging Around
Bad Vibration
Skin Deep
God is a Woman
Golden Brown
God Guns and Gays
Always the Sun
A Street Called Carroll
In the Dead of the Night


(Get a ) Grip (On yourself)
No More Heroes

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