Gentleman Hugh – Stranglers front man in North Devon

Gentleman Hugh – Stranglers front man in North Devon

I have to admit that I haven’t been paying too much attention to Hughs career since he split from the Stranglers in 1990. In fact I didn’t pay much attention to the Stranglers after they released their fifth, and extremely disappointing album “The Gospel According to the Men in Black” in 1981 so you could be forgiven for thinking my interest in Cornwell was only fleeting. However, nothing could be further from the truth as I still play Stranglers records on a regular basis and I still think of myself as a fan. I’m a creature of habit and play either Rattus Norvegicus IV or the White Side of “Black and White” at least once a month and have done for the last five years so I was thrilled to hear from my mate Steve that Hugh was appearing in the nearby market town of Great Torrington in North Devon at the Plough Theatre.

Steve and I both spoke before Hugh appeared of how he must look now and if we’d recognise him if we saw him in a pub. Would he be wearing a leather jacket and jeans, or perhaps a hat, bandana or something unconventional ? I was almost certain he’d still have that arrogant “lead singer” edge and would dress accordingly, but I was wrong. He looked just like a gent, possibly the least casual guy in the theatre wearing jacket, trousers, shirt and brogues – yes brogues !

cornwell-on-stage-at-Torrin

Hugh then delighted us with tunes from each of the first ten Stranglers albums in the first half of the concert followed by more tunes from his solo career in the second half. They were all acoustic, no tapes, no backing tracks, just Hugh and his guitar – pure genius. He kept us entertained between the songs with tales of the writing, the producers, the labels, the records, deals and the recordings and also gave us some advice – “Belgium, if you want decent food, avoid Paris, go to Belgium”. It was all so civilised.

He commented on a couple of people sneaking in and out between songs, a little controversy perhaps? No not at all, Hugh was the perfect gent. Wait a minute, what’s those stimulants he’s popping? Relax, just cough sweets ! He’s knocking those drinks back though? But hang on, it’s Ok it’s only water , still water , not fizzy ( I had noticed someone had swapped them before Hugh came on )

Me and Hugh Cornwell

After the show Steve and I made a brisk beeline for the reception were Hugh promised there was some signed “vinyl” to purchase and he was true to his word. Having opened a number of new LPs on my market stall I gave Hugh a hand and helped open up my copy of Hughs latest “Solo Greatest Hits” before he signed  “The Fall and Rise of Hugh Cornwell”

I asked him if he was surprised how remote we were in Torrington and he laughed, explaining he’d left from Brighton at lunch, he was knackered, North Devon was certainly remote and the drive was over five hours.  Mmmm, controversy at last!

Kinks Review

Kinks Review

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Ok so they are actually called the Kast off Kinks, but they are not a tribute band, they’re the Kinks! At the bottom of the blog is a link explaining the line up and which of the original Kinks are in the band now but at the Poltimore, Yarde Down (not far from Brayford, North Devon), who cares if they’re cast off?

It’s hard to believe it but the Poltimore arms, Yarde Down is one of the last pubs on the English mainland to still not be connected to mains electricity. So it’s particularly amazing that they chose to do a gig here, but what a brilliant event this turned out to be. This was the second year Steve and co had put on such an event and it turned out to be even better than last year. Of course the weather had a lot to do with it (it rained last year), coupled with a much larger covered section in front of the stage which greatly improved the atmosphere and a larger crowd.

I have to admit that I was rather late getting to the event so I missed all the fun in the afternoon and early evening. What was worse I missed the Flaming Rat Rods which was real blow as they are always great https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMJSy–G9qg

I did see Big Boy Bloater who was holding his own on the stage banging out some tunes on his guitar in front of a lively audience.

crowd

The Poltimore  had really got the organisation sussed. I am normally one for picking holes in events and thinking up ways to improve things but I was struggling here. Great parking, despite fairly heavy rain the day before the fields were pretty dry, entrance was neat and easy to find and well marshalled. Drinks were via tokens so I got six tokens for £20 which was 6 pints worth, again not bad price for a venue. There were toilets inside the pub and supplementing these were some porta loos. There was food on, but I gave that a wide birth and got straight into the cider – scrumpyesq – really nice stuff. OK so maybe there was one complaint – we need this event more than once a year !

posse

bar

When the band came on they played all their hits, Lola, Waterloo Sunset, Sunny After, Come Dancing, Dead End Street and You Really Got Me.

This was an excellent evening with a lovely crowd. Bring on 2016.

here’s a quote from kast off Kinks website

The Kast Off Kinks formed in 1994 to keep the music playing on, and it is what the name implies – the original line-up consisted of the band that played Lola (apart from Ray and Dave) – Avory, Dalton and Gosling – together In 2009, the line-up became the band that played Come Dancing – Avory, Gibbons and Rodford (respectively the Kinks’ longest-serving drummer, keyboard player and bassist) – still with Dave Clarke covering for the Davies brothers. Jim then became very busy playing with The Zombies and Argent, so John Dalton was persuaded out of retirement to stand in for him and now plays very regularly with The Kast Off Kinks .

Almost every other ex-Kink has guested with The Kast Off Kinks, including Ray Davies.

kinks