Guest Review – Hugh Cornwell – Weyfest – 5th September 2015.
Hugh Cornwell played at the Weyfest Festival in Surrey – Guildford Lil gives us the lowdown…
I was initially lured to Weyfest when the Stranglers played there in 2010. I was then so won over by this most civilised festival that I have been coming back every year since, seeing it as a chance for me to unwind and for my children to go feral. I purchased my ticket for this year back in October when none of the line-up had been announced. As the artists were gradually announced over the following months there were few that I knew and rather a lot that I had never even heard of. In mid-July came the announcement that The Troggs (yes, I’d heard of them) would not be able to attend and would be replaced by Hugh Cornwell. Bonus!
This isn’t a review of the entire festival but I have to mention that I went to see Inside Information play on the Old Kiln Stage. I was basing my decision on the flimsy connection to Hugh’s account of his time in Pentonville having the same title as the band’s name. I was surprised to see that the bass player was a former work friend of my husband’s. For a computer nerd he rocked pretty well and I stayed for several songs.
The other honourable mention of the weekend goes to the Charley Farley Sunday Four’s performance of Golden Brown. Always a delight and I am continued to be indebted to Mr Bloggs for passing on a recommendation to see them that he was given a couple of years back.
Weyfest was a little quieter this year than in previous years. This may have been down to a slight change to the weekend it was held which meant that the schools had already gone back but what the audiences lacked in numbers they continued to provide in enthusiasm.
At 18.20 on Saturday I joined the small group at the barrier of the Village Green Stage to enjoy the sound check and admire the Totem and Taboo banner that had been strung across the back of the stage. At 18.30 Hugh, Chris and Caz formally took the stage. They were well received and the audience swelled in numbers throughout the set. It was the familiar pattern of a solo song alternated with a Stranglers song. As expected T&T featured heavily (the title track, Stuck in Daily Mail Land, I Want One of Those, God is a Woman, Gods, Guns and Gays, A Street Called Caroll) with just Beat of My Heart thrown in for variety. Representing the Stranglers were Skin Deep, Dagenham Dave, Duchess, Strange Little Girl, Grip, Peaches, Straighten Out and an encore of Sleazy and No More Heroes.
The tunes were blasted out with energy and zest and received by the audience with gentle but keen, warm appreciation. Splinters were flying from the back of the stage and Chris finished up Daily Mail Land with about two thirds of one drumstick remaining. Hugh had bass levels tweaked at the beginning of the set and even JJ must have felt it during Peaches (although it was less prominent by NMH in my opinion). A Street Called Caroll didn’t pause before it was straight into Straighten Out. Was this truly a proper segue? A jury may decide in its favour another time.
Strange Little Girl produced the biggest crowd reaction when it started up. The Stranglers please note: no one was shouting for Golden Brown or Always the Sun and no one seemed to miss them. There were several calls for Nice and Sleazy and ultimately those punters were satisfied unlike the optimistic cry for Genetix from someone. Only a handful of Stranglers t-shirts had been in evidence during the day but along with them a lot of Weyfest regulars had chosen to wear their 2010 and 2013 t-shirts which bear the band name too. A friendly bunch. Hugh introduced songs at times and commented about how nice it was having a village green atmosphere but noted how cold it was “I was picking mushrooms last week, in August, not magic mushrooms, too early for those.”
A technical hitch almost lost us the encore that managed to get squeezed into the tight festival schedule (most of the bands appearing on the main Beekeeper’s Stage were denied an encore no matter how enthusiastic the audiences). Hugh returned to the stage to find his guitar strap was hanging off when he picked up the Telecaster. A quick search of the stage found the offending bolt (or whatever was required) and disaster averted. It was a short set, as expected, but the crowd left satisfied and I spoke with several people who were impressed.
Hopefully Hugh will return to Weyfest soon. Too much to hope for but Hugh Cornwell on Saturday and The Stranglers on Sunday? A girl can dream!
After a cold night I awoke to find that Chris Bell and Caz Campbell had pitched their mini camping corral next to my tent. I had to give in to temptation and have a chat. Chris confirmed that he was down to his last drumstick by the end of the set “must have been hitting something wrong” was his opinion. Meanwhile I can confirm that Caz still looks that good even early in the morning after a night in a tent, in case anyone doubted it, wf.
Words: Guildford Lil.
Photos: Gill Baglady.