- Dam good: Hugh Cornwell
Even with a high profile overseas, it can be difficult for British artists to breach our shores. And they don't get much bigger than Hugh Cornwell, the former principal songwriter, singer and guitarist for The Stranglers, one of the most commercially durable British acts of their time.
After forming in the mid-'70s, The Stranglers successfully transitioned from punk to New Wave and landed more than 20 singles in the Top 40, including classics like "No More Heroes," "Peaches," "Nice 'N' Sleazy." Another, "Golden Brown," saw a resurgence after it was featured in the film Snatch.
Cornwell left the band in the 1990s for a solo career, seeking to stretch his wings. He's nothing if not adventurous: In addition to his music, he's penned an autobiography, a chronicle of Stranglers songs and a novel. He also edited the DVD performance movie accompanying his last album, 2008's Hoover Dam.
Like former schoolmate Richard Thompson (who plays the Byham Theater on Mon., Nov. 1), Cornwell's no slouch on guitar. His voice has a square-jawed, broad-shouldered strut that's both biting and self-possessed. In manner and delivery, he recalls Ray Davies, with an impetuous insouciance.
Cornwell may lack stateside familiarity, but his rich catalog and potent performances more than carry him. What's more, he's not precious about his solo career, generously sprinkling Stranglers classics throughout his live shows. Cornwell's Sat., Oct. 30, show at Thunderbird Café is presented by City Paper contributor Manny Theiner.
Hugh Cornwell with Thin Sketch and Drugula. 9 p.m. Sat., Oct. 30. at Thunderbird Café, 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $10 ($12 day of show). 412-682-0177 or www.thunderbirdcafe.com