Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hugh Cornwell - Beyond Elysian Fields

Remember The Stranglers? Really, do you remember what you were doing in 1977? Eh... no didn’t think so. Most people reading this will have no idea. But Hugh Cornwell and The Stanglers were, along with other punk bands of the time, trail blazing a new definition of music and fashion. Dead was the hippy era, gone were the days of the mods and rockers. This blog could become a major thesis on the life-imitates-fashion-imitates-life theme... And it probably deserves to, so we’ll come back to that soon!

Meanwhile, Hugh Cornwell turns up in Melbourne this week in a seedy (Northcote) social club, which smelled of stale beer. You could miss the place altogether if you hadn’t travelled directly from the airport to get there. It was obviously the right place when the front door was opened and plumes of smoke billowed out into the street. And the “security” on the door were far too young to have seen Hugh first time around.

When the lights finally focused on stage, Hugh, despite a very lived in face, carried well toned skin, the manners of a diplomat, and a sense of caring, which forgave the stupidity of some of the audience. What was even cooler was the superb resonance of such a mature voice, which has if anything improved since the seventies. Hugh was unplugged in the finest tradition, just him and his guitar. He took no crap from the audience hecklers – explaining this was “not a request gig”, but kindly responding that he could return with his band to do the other favourite songs if Australia ever made another “serious” attempt to regain the Ashes.

So across the crowd, the black jackets, and jeans were abound, but some of the coolchiqs had dressed up for him, and he kept his suit jacket on despite tangling the cuff buttons in his guitar strings. Beyond Elysian Fields carries some delightful sounds… And they’re carried by someone who’s modest enough not to even realise he has influenced a generation through his music and through changing contemporary fashion. Thanks Hugh.


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