Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Former Strangler is in fine form, but still loses his cool

While the remaining Stranglers have pounded the circuit relying on the residual loyalty of their fan base – and an admittedly still impressive live kick – former front man Hugh Cornwell has ploughed a defiantly individualistic furrow.

Resisting what I imagine must be the lucrative option of burying the hatchet with his old band mates, his determination to do his own thing is heartwarmingly punk in itself.

So enter a raffish Mr Cornwell armed only with an acoustic guitar and an intent to play one track from each of his albums from the Stranglers onwards, a simple idea which initially worked very well, with old standards like Nice and Sleazy gaining a kind of music hall charm and a rejuvenated Golden Brown sounding especially at home.

Even the 'unlistenable' Men in Black album produced one acoustic gem in Thrown Away. But then a tetchy Mr Cornwell, grown fed up with the Black Box's tendency towards the conversational rather lost it.

A foul mouthed harangue followed, destroying what had been an, up until then, affable atmosphere.

The applause became more polite as the intros became perfunctory.

A pity, because some of his solo work, such as the Robert Mitchum inspired Big Sleep was more than worth a listen.

Just learn a little patience Mr Cornwell. You're not a chemistry teacher any more.

MICHAEL CONAGHAN

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Sagittarius:

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