I first became privy to the Hugh Cornwell's (The Stranglers), upcoming showcase at Carina Round's knockout performance at Bardot while chit chatting with Steve Fishman the bassman of Cornwell's new ensemble. Of course I couldn't wait to jump on this horse and ride it. So as the day approached I removed all obstacles to what I considered a near once in a life time experience for their kick off party to their East Coast tour featuring a complete performance of Rattus Norvegicus. My friend Jonas and I both headed out early to El Cid, the now historic restaurant built by D.W. Griffin, where the party was to begin. When we arrived there was already a good size crowd in attendance. We launched into the patio area and met up with Tammi Sutton, Director of the horror Sutures, to hang out and suck in the scene. On the patio there was a veritable who's who of Punk and Rock glitterati insiders that included such notables as Ronnie Barnett of the Muffs, Frank Infante of Blondie, Tom Livemore of Carina Round and Tim Worman of the Polcats. While eavesdropping, positioned close to the bar and Tammi and Jonas I heard a guys mention he'd just finished a tour with Jerry Lee Lewis. This all indicating that Hugh is a musician's musician, which was upping the ante for this night's performance. It was announced that the band was about to hit the stage, thus filling a floor usually reserved for Flamenco performances was littered with haircuts, fancy alty dressers, Rock Stars and die hard were fans ready to take a licking from the men in black.
I can say without hesitation that The Stranglers had a definitive and seminal sound within the Punk Rock/Rock?Indy Rock music scene that is still felt in contemporary music today. So this was a performance of a historic nature and you could feel the riveting anticipation under the theatrical lights of El Cid intimate stage. The guys enter determined and focused hitting with us the throbbing Nice N' Sleazy as Steve's searing bass lines penetrated through the walls of the ancient establishment, Clem drove the rhythm perfect timing and Hugh delivering the vocals in seamlessly perfect manner as if I was hearing for the first time on a record. They picked up the tempo with Going To The City and kept hitting all the high notes throughout the first part of the set that included an extra long version of Golden Brown, soon to be used on Dancing With The Stars. They reved up the crowd with No More Hero's that closed the first part of the set wetting the appetite for the coming set performance of Rattus Norvegicus.
I had enough time to grab a cocktail before the second part of tonight's epic experience. The flawless performance continued as they re-entered the El Cid stage knocking out every songs with precise ease befitting the legendary pros that they are launching into Hanging Around and banging a a tasty version of Peaches. Peaches brought the freak out in the crowd as couples started getting down and dirty to this iconic deep bassy tune. So the crowd really let go with (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) as everybody started jumping, dancing and cheering. Down In The Sewers close out the set with lots of cheers and fanfare. Then no one left. They were waiting, waiting for the encore. No one was disappointed as the guys hit the stage once more with Frank Infante, former guitarist for Blondie and the guy that cut a new album with the New York Dolls, blazing on his guitar for a pumped up crowd the guys delivered. They knocked out a couple Blondie songs that included Rip Her To Shreds as a homage to Frank and Clem. Eventually the band exited the stage but the party continued till the wee hours as everyone gathered out at the patio for photos and shinanigans. Hugh and company have set a high and exciting standard for their upcoming tour for the first ever US performance of Rattus Norvegicus!