It turns out that punk rock is alive and well and going on tour, evidenced by a show at Nick & Eddie on the evening of Friday, March 2, where Hugh Cornwell (the original guitarist, singer and main songwriter from The Stranglers) and Glen Matlock (the original bass player from the Sex Pistols, who also formed Rich Kids and worked with Iggy Pop).
Cornwell and Matlock may be getting a bit older, but they can still rock it, as can their old-school fans, who were all enthusiastically cheering and dancing along with the show. There were also some 20-somethings in the crowd who seemed to be enjoying themselves, too.
Glen Matlock was a great performer, very personable in his intros and inserting a bit of storytelling throughout. One of my favorite songs was “Idiot,“ one of his newer songs, which he claimed was autobiographical, and included a call and response with the audience singing along with the titular chorus.
He also played an awesome rendition of “White Knuckle Ride,” and some Sex Pistol classics like “God Save the Queen” (which was banned by the BBC when it was first released in 1977) and “Pretty Vacant,” from the same album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.
Afterwards, Matlock changed it up to something “a little bluesy” with a fantastic performance of “Ambition.” The song gave Matlock an opportunity to show off the soulful side of his voice, and drummer Clem Burke to show off his stuff (which he did adeptly throughout the show, for both Matlock and Cornwell).
Hugh Cornwell’s set was also amazing. He played classics like “Hanging around and Nice ‘n Sleazy” and a lot of new songs (if you get a chance, you can download a free download from his website). The set had some great opportunities for the musicians—Clem Burke and Steve Fishman—to showcase their mad skills. That was pretty much one of the best things about the show in general—everybody was just so good at playing music. In addition to his charismatic performing and guttural, passionate singing, Cornwell’s really a suburb guitar player, and it was fun to see a group of really great musicians do their thing.
I wasn’t around for the beginnings of the punk-rock movement. I have this image in my mind that it was all about anarchy and an antiauthoritarian mindset that perhaps was a response to the political situation at the time. In many ways, you can see why the aesthetic still resonates, even if it’s slightly less anarchic than it once was. In order to have a life-long career as a musician, even as a punk-rock musician, you have to accept the system just a little bit. But even if you have to play the game once in a while, that doesn’t mean you can’t escape into the music every once in a while. Punk rock, after all, is good for the soul.