Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell previews his Bath show

This is a piece I have done for the Bath Chronicle about Hugh Cornwell, the former lead singer of The Stranglers, and his appearance on November 18 at the city venue Moles. If you see this and can get to Bath next week there is a contest at the bottom of this to win tickets!!

Former Stranglers front man makes Moles debut

Hugh Cornwell, the locally-based former lead singer of The Stranglers, returns to Bath on Wednesday for a surprise second major show in the city this year.

The Box singer/songwriter, who played an extremely well-received concert at Komedia in March, will be making his first ever appearance at Moles as part of a warm-up for an important national tour, on Wednesday.

But, although it will be Hugh’s debut live show at Bath’s most famous venue, he is certainly no stranger to its underground delights.

“I’ve never played Moles before”, said Hugh. “I used to go there a lot in the past and thinking about it, I must have spent an awful lot of drinking money there.

“It was always a good place for seeing bands and I can remember seeing The Manic Street Preachers there before they broke. I also have some vague memory of The Stranglers doing some filming in Moles but I can’t remember what it was so perhaps that’s just one of those memories that doesn’t actually exist.”

The reason for Hugh’s quick return to Bath is for him to prepare for several high-profile national concerts which will sees him playing a set devoted to the classic 1977 Stranglers album Rattus Norvegicus and the other half to his solo album, Hoover Dam.

It’s the first time that Hugh will ever have done this ‘whole album concept’ and he says it just seemed a logical thing to do at this stage of his long and varied career.

“We have been touring extensively with Hoover Dam and it is an album the band and I really enjoy playing. The idea to do the whole of that record as well as the whole of Rattus came together when I realised how many of the songs from that first Stranglers album I already played and so it seemed like an interesting thing to run them all altogether and then do the same with the latest record. It will all make for a nice little show I think”

This means that fans of both Hugh’s past and current music should have a real treat. He will kick off with the whole of his latest album – which has been a huge success critically and has earned him an enormous amount of attention after being given away free to download – and after a break he will return to the stage and blast out all the songs of his first ever album with The Stranglers including such hits as Peaches and Grip as well as acknowledged Stranglers classics like Hanging Around and Down In The Sewer.

“There are only a couple of songs on Rattus that I haven’t done on my own before so I thought doing them would be fun. I don’t normally sing songs that other people in the band used to sing but it’s been good to revisit them and give them a new twist,” he said.

Before this mini-tour Hugh had been very active in America.

In Europe The Stranglers always had a big following and success, but in the United States it was something of a different story which is why Hugh is so determined to make his mark there this time around.

“Being a success in America is a real building process and you have to put the work in and leave a calling card everywhere you go. It’s something that we just never really did with The Stranglers. It takes time to make your mark over there and with The Stranglers we were never that bothered about doing that. We also left it far too long between each visit and I’m determined not to do that again. I’ve learned from my mistakes,” he said.

The fact that Hugh’s album can de downloaded free all around the world (visit will greatly help that process.
“A lot of people we played to seemed to know the Hoover Dam songs pretty well because of the whole free download situation. It meant that we could play just about anywhere and be sure of an audience because people could check out our album for free in the days running up to a show and then come along if they liked it.

“In the past it was only the bigger towns where we used to get an audience because our material wasn’t universally available – now you can play to as many people in a smaller town as in a bigger one. The internet knows no boundaries ands we have benefited from that.”

Before returning back to the States, Hugh is keenly-anticipating his concerts in the UK and it seems his work ethic and desire to play live has never been stronger. His reasons for that are quite clear: “I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been which certainly helps,” he said. “I also think as you get older you realise there’s only a short time left to be able to do what you do and you just want to be more active. If you sit around that time just goes. I don’t want to waste any time at all – and I think that’s part of the drive.”

As for Wednesday’s Bath show, Hugh says he’s really looking forward to returning to Moles.
“This concert has all fitted in perfectly and I’m really looking forward to it. Bath is just such a nice place and it has always been good to me,” he said.

Wednesday’s show starts at 7.30pm and any remaining tickets, costing £20, are available now from Moles and their usual outlets.

  • The Bath Chronicle has two tickets to give away for the gig. If you would like to win the pair then send an email to with the answer to the question: in what year did Hugh and his fellow Stranglers release Rattus Norvegicus? The concert promoters will contact the winners direct.

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