This Time It’s Personal with John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell

Gig Review: John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell at the Waterfront, Norwich, 25 November 2017

Mancunian Poets, 50’s and 60’s classics, and the legend which is Hugh Cornwell in an intimate performance in Norwich, UK. 

The Waterfront, Norwich hasn’t exactly been my favourite venue to see live performances as of late, due to the poor sound. The last gig, The Buzzcocks, I had serious hearing problems for over a week, with the vocals of Pete Shelley drowned by the volume of the band.


Saint Anthony – Saint Anthony
Please come around.
Something is lost that can’t be found

Talk to me of Albion Anderton and art
The arndale
Alan Turing
Acid House
Alexandra Park

Bez the Buzzcocks bouncing bombs
The beautiful Busby Babes
Cancer Christies Catholicism
Crack and Curt Cocaine

– Mike Garry

The cheeky Northern accent of Mike Garry projected perfectly across the open room, a dedicated and intimate group, up for more than the average turn out when the warm up act takes to the stage. Laughter, heart felt applause, and genuine admiration for Mike’s talent. He is a genius with his words, in his ability to capture the North, but he’s something else, something special, when he performs. He spoke of a place that I haven’t thought of for a long time. He spoke of the North. Although I’m originally from Staffordshire, the culture of Manchester infects the surrounding areas, it seeps in, it influences. We are proud of what was birthed from Manchester’s music scene.

Needless to say we were warmed up for a northern legend, or two. First purchase of the night Men’s Mournings by Mike Garry, dedicated, and signed by the man himself.

Old classics pumped from the speakers like a radio station DJ’d by Dr John Cooper Clarke himself, it proving to be very difficult not to start dancing, or at least stiffly moving, somewhat in time to the music. More people wandered in, having missed one of the best warm up acts I’ve seen. Then I noticed a man standing next to me holding a signed LP. Off I ran like a kid to a candy store. I returned with one signed LP. A short wait later the legends that are Hugh Cornwell (of The Stranglers) and Dr. John Cooper Clarke, walked on stage, very casually and almost like we all knew one another.

This Time It’s Personal

And boom, we go straight into It’s only make believe. Dr. John Cooper Clarke has this amazing tone to his voice. Different music keys evoke different emotions, and Dr. John Cooper Clarke’s voice does that. The tone evokes emotions that are routed deep. You can really feel what he says. Way down yonder in New Orleans, and we’re transported, This time it’s personal.

Spanish Harlem was a treat, but I have to admit, I was gearing up to my favourite track, Johnny, Remember Me – there was silence, and then a whirling of wind. Dr. John Cooper Clarke walked a few steps to his left and smiled a smile that lit up the room, a smile that showed a mischievous side. The strumming took me to the Wild West, with cowboys and vast deserts, and that tone of Dr. John Cooper Clarke echoed inside my body, then they brought us down again with Macarthur Park. At this point Dr. John Cooper Clarke is fully engaging with this intimate group, enjoying the admiration that is palpable, and also spinning in a bit of comedy.

She’s a woman gets everyone moving again, including a guy in a long beige trench coat, grey beard and longish messy grey hair, who seemed familiar with a polite smile when he caught my eye. Donna and Jezebel continue our journey back in time, and then they pull it out of the bag again with Love Potion No. 9. With only one song to go, and having watched them on stage for a little over 30 minutes, we were content should the night end there. Sweeter than you closed the show, and what a delight it was.

The fans called for an encore, and Hugh Cornwell and band, returned. We got another treat. About half an hour of Cornwell songs and The Stranglers songs, with an amazing rendition of Walk on By. That man knows how to play the guitar. He’s a perfectionist, ensuring that the sound was always the best it could be, calling in the stage hand when needed.

How could this night get any better?

Dr. John Cooper Clarke walks back on stage as the band start playing the tune for I wanna be yours. At this point I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. Anybody who knows us, who came to our wedding, knows we had this read out in our service. It was the source of much humour, discussion and memories on what was the best day of my life. The show was concluded with a couple of Dr. John Cooper Clarke’s poems and then a few duets with Hugh Cornwell, singing No More Heroes and (Get a) grip on yourself, which were just fantastic.

They say their final goodbyes, and I was straight over to the merchandise stand asking the guy to reserve a signed CD for me whilst I popped to the money stealing cash machine in the venue, you know the ones that charge you for using it…I ran back across the floor and watched the guy sell the last signed CD. My heart sank. He turned to me, recognised me and from under a cardboard box flap he pulled out the CD. I beamed, asked for a T-Shirt for my hubby, and we left the venue high on Hugh Cornwell and Dr. John Cooper Clarke. Quite frankly, I have only been to a small handful of gigs where that has happened.

And so I have found I miss my home. I miss the hills. I miss the people of the Northern lands.

And she taught me that the more I read the more I see
The more I see the more I know
The more I know the more I grow
The more I grow the more I am
And I would give the world and all its riches
To simply hold that woman’s hand one more time
And say thanks
– Mike Garry


  • It’s Only Make Believe
    (Conway Twitty cover)
  • Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
    (Henry Creamer cover)
  • Spanish Harlem
    (Ben E. King cover)
  • Johnny Remember Me
    (John Leyton cover)
  • MacArthur Park
    (Jimmy Webb cover)
  • She’s a Woman
  • Donna
    (Ritchie Valens cover)
  • Jezebel
  • Love Potion No. 9
    (The Clovers cover)
  • Sweeter Than You
  • Black Hair Black Eyes Black Suit
    (Hugh Cornwell cover)
  • Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
    (The Stranglers cover)
  • Stuck in Daily Mail Land
    (Hugh Cornwell cover)
  • Walk On By
    (Dionne Warwick cover)
  • I Wanna Be Yours
  • 36 Hours
  • No More Heroes
    (The Stranglers cover)
  • (Get a) Grip (On Yourself)
    (The Stranglers cover)
  • Hanging Around
    (The Stranglers cover)

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