It was a case of first and last for me on Sunday night. My first gig of 2014, which came on the last night of the Out To Lunch Festival, the winter version of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.
It came, courtesy of Hugh Cornwell, former frontman of The Stranglers.
In my youth, i’d heard of The Stranglers, mainly ‘Golden Brown’
It was the use of ‘Peaches‘ in a sportswear commercial in 2002 that got me curious. I borrowed their Greatest Hits from Belfast Central Library, and became hooked.
There was a concept to this show. Hugh Cornwell, alone, with only an acoustic guitar, playing one song from every album he has released in his career, as a member of The Stranglers, and as a solo artist.
He entered the stage to loud applause, jokingly asking “Where’s my guitarist?”
One of the early songs played was “No More Heroes”
When you think of the big Stranglers hits, they don’t sound like they would translate acoustically, but Cornwell made them work.
It was a point he acknowledged when introducing ‘Golden Brown’, a song he had never previously considered playing acoustically, until a few years ago, when paired with Eddi Reader to duet at a charity concert, who basically told him they would be performing it acoustically …….. so, he went and learnt it.
Before each song, it was introduced with a story behind the song, and anecdotes from that period in time, such as getting a free trip to Japan to approve album art work, and when ask to record a follow-up hit to ‘Golden Brown’, they re-recorded a song their record company had rejected six years earlier …… ‘Strange Little Girl’
The most surreal anecdote came when he had inspiration in the middle of the night to do a Mariachi version of ‘Golden Brown’, a few years ago.
Having recorded the song, he recorded a video for it. At the shoot, the band he was filming with had to leave early to audition …… for a commercial.
Yes, the Doritos Band.
The Punk Spirit, was still there, singling out two members of the audience for talking during one of his songs, issuing them with an ultimatum to “Shut up or fuck off”
The show, in chronological order, moved on to his solo albums, which he observed, were released every four years.
After playing from his last album, it looked like that was it, but there was still time for an encore, featuring hits such as ‘Strange Little Girl’ and ‘Duchess’, which brought the biggest singalong of the night.
After leaving the stage to a standing ovation, he then headed to the side of the stage to pose for photos and sign autographs for fans.
It is unclear if the two fans he told to “Shut up or fuck off” joined him.