Gig review: Wilko Johnson and Hugh Cornwell at Leeds University Stylus

Two guitar heroes in one night. What a treat!

Friday, 11th May 2018, 5:18 pm
Updated Friday, 11th May 2018, 5:21 pm
Wilko Johnson at Leeds University Stylus. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
Wilko Johnson at Leeds University Stylus. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

First up, Hugh Cornwell at the Stylus, an intimate venue but still plenty of space for a bit of a boogie if so inclined. Always remembered as the former frontman of The Stranglers, his solo career is now longer than his tenure in the legendary band. He quit in 1990.

Cornwell had tweeted to be there early as he was taking to the stage at 7.45pm but on arrival at 7.30pm there he was, already playing. Overeagerness or maybe needing an early night? Whatever, time may have taken the edge off his voice but he still knows how to be the showman with his wit as sharp as ever. (He seemed fascinated that all roads lead to Leeds...yes, they do.)

The audience had a journey through his solo career, a new album is on the horizon, and a smattering of Stranglers classics.

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Hugh Cornwell on stage at Leeds University Stylus. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Next up was Wilko Johnson, another guitarist who left a classic band. He quit Dr Feelgood in 1977 but has been an influence on the rhythm ’n’ blues scene ever since.

Watching him jerk frenziedly around the stage as though he was still in his 20s, it is hard to believe that just a few years ago he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

But he has proved he is a survivor in music and life and as the night got steamier and sweatier, Johnson kept belting out those classics and, like Cornwell, the creative juices keep flowing with a new album due out next month, the first new material in 30 years.

The only letdown was Cornwell and Johnson did not play together at the end. Never mind. All hail the heroes.