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Former lead singer of seminal punk band will play new album – followed by The Stranglers’ No More Heroes in its entirety

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Ever wondered what it would take to get a veritable punk legend to perform in your front room?

Where former Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell is concerned, a tidy £3,000 should do the trick.

While tonight the 63-year-old will be in action at the O2 Academy Islington, fans were offered the chance of a more intimate gig as part of his innovative approach to making latest album Totem and Taboo.

Through the website PledgeMusic, they were asked to buy the album before it had even been recorded. Those who contributed more than the cover price could get everything from a hand-written lyric sheet (for a pledge of £35) to Cornwell drawing their portrait (£600). For three grand, the punk veteran would turn up on your doorstep.

“It was a great way to make a record,” he said. “For starters, it means the artist has control and ownership of it. But it also builds bonds between the fans, and me and the fans. They feel they have some sort of stake in it... some are even working towards promoting the album and some of my shows.”

Far more money was raised than was needed to make the album, so Cornwell decided that five per cent of the sales would be given to Missing People, a charity which offers a lifeline to the 250,000 people who go missing every year.

Tonight’s gig will be something of a homecoming for this son of Tufnell Park, and it will offer something special for fans new and old.

The Academy will be treated to a rare performance of The Stranglers’ seminal 1977 long-player, No More Heroes, played in its entirety, after a full run-through of his latest effort.

Produced by Steve Albini, who has worked with the likes of The Pixies and PJ Harvey, Totem and Taboo has elements of early Stranglers records like No More Heroes, while its name is taken from a book by Sigmund Freud. “I’m delighted with the way it has turned out,” he said.

As a songwriter Hugh Cornwell has always tackled issues which may for some be taboo. This latest album is no exception, with songs about consumerism, the obsessions of the United States and Daily Mail readers.

One song, The Face, is about an amusing story concerning Madonna. Cornwell takes up the story. “I’d been invited to a party Madonna was holding at The ICA in the Mall. I got to meet Paul Roberts, who had replaced me as the singer in The Stranglers, which was strange for both of us. As you could imagine, the food was great and the drink was flowing.

“So I needed to go to the toilet. Got in the queue, but it just didn’t seem to go down. I only discovered it wasn’t a queue for the toilet, but for a personal meeting with Madonna...which I declined.”

n Totem and Taboo, released through Cadiz Music, is available to buy now. Cornwell plays the O2 Academy Islington in Parkfield Street, N1, tonight (Friday). Tickets £20, visit www.o2academyislington.co.uk.

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