Hugh Cornwell / Twilight Hotel Power Plant, Edmonton AB - March 26, 2006

Facing any rock iconoclast can be risky, but as former Strangler Hugh Cornwell stood there hissing at his paltry assembly of alcoholic folkies, we were right up there with him. The night was devilish and captivating, but it’s just too easy to argue against for all the wrong reasons. It all started with Twilight Hotel, a Winnipeg band so fundamentally wrong and hokey I kept craning around the fatties to see if a mockumentary crew were hiding out. Their posturing, angsty highway-icana was about on par with a religious puppet show, except the lesson here was God obviously hates us. But lo! Cornwell came on sharp and leathery to a trademark Edmonton pre-emptive standing o, and things were rolling along fine until he couldn’t remember when he’d last haunted us. Seeing this as his big moment, some lecherous cunt brought up a Stranglers show from the Palaeozoic era, which he still had some beef with, and took it upon himself to subsequently heckle the otherwise dignified composer. Orcs always think iconoclasts grok this kind of shit. The solo acoustic set itself was brilliant — "Duchess” and "Golden Brown” were there for the holy checklisters, Cornwell’s straightforward voice was enveloped by beautiful minor-key bridges and newer tunes like "Nice ‘n’ Sleazy” and "Beauty on the Beach.” If there’s a pun, he jumps it, yet never succumbs to "I’ve been drinking about you” camp. But despite these ticklish lyrics in the dark, on jabbered the gibbons in a crowd of less than 30. After calling anyone who pays money to talk loudly at a live solo show "idiots,” Cornwell came over to the small group of us standing and pondered an encore: "Look at ’em,” he snarled. "These fuckers don’t deserve it.” Still, he emerged later with a bottle of wine, so maybe he’ll re-haunt. But why the small crowd? Two words: Oi. Lers.