My journey to see the Biccies began as ever, courtesy of our wonderful Rail Network, and following only two lengthy delays I arrived in Sheffield at half past seven.
The Boardwalk was dead easy to find and I arrived just before quarter to seven to see a queue lining up to be admitted, there were a fair number of HMHB t-shirts and the odd Dukla Prague away shirt - so I knew I had found the right place.
No touts were present, which is unusual.
I took my place in the queue behind two girls who appeared to be about sixteen/seventeen years old, however when I got to the ticket booth, a chap in a security t-shirt barred their progress and asked ME "How old are the kids mate?" "I'll tell you when I have some" I replied.
After that embarrassment I ventured into the Boardwalk and acquainted myself with the venue. For those ( like myself ) who have never visited before, the Boardwalk is a one room venue, basically a long by narrow Pub, with the entrance at one end, the stage at the other, and a bar running alongside.
I purchased a beer from the very efficient bar staff, who were also very attractive, apart from the male barman who appeared to have modelled himself on Rasputin (but was very helpful nonetheless).
I then looked around at my peers, and noted that ( with a few exceptions ) I was one of the youngest fans there, despite being thirty six years old. This was remedied a little as the club filled up.
I also noted that the HMHB website could make a fortune selling its mailing list to Specsavers, as almost all the blokes seemed to be wearing glasses.
After an hour or so listening to a very good, but a bit-too-loud mix-tape of various indie "classics" i.e. the Pixies, Fall etc. the support act came on.
Calvin Party are a band I have heard of, but cannot remember why, when or where I have heard of them. They are fronted by a chap who, on first appearances seems to be the reincarnation of the late great Hovis Presley crossed with every Sociology Lecturer I have ever seen.
They also sported a female "keyboard" player, who didn't play keyboards, indeed her only purpose seemed to be to add some much needed aesthetic appeal to the band. And I am glad to say that on this front at least, she was not found wanting !
The lead singer seemed preoccupied with letting the audience know he had seen a few psychiatrists ( shades of "I've been in a mental hospital, but I don't like to talk about it " ), and somewhat overdid the "Look at me I am crackers!" bit.
Other than that the band were very entertaining, they got an appreciative round of applause after each song, and did a particularly good "bluesy" number that featured some cracking slide guitar work.
Then the calm before the storm........the faithful approached the front of stage in readiness for the Biccies.
"Hi I'm Hendy" said the bloke next to me, offering his hand to shake, a friendly young man who looked like a cross between Wolverine and Gaz from Supergrass - fantastic sideies! He explained it was his first Biccies gig, having only got into them a few months ago. Fair play to him though, he had bough the complete back catalogue, and as the night went on he knew a fair number of songs off by heart.
Then the band trotted onstage, no fanfare, no "Walking in the Air", just strolled on and off they went.
I had far too much fun to remember the full set list, but notable numbers included a "A Shropshire Lad" which Nigel gave a nervous glance around for comedic effect when he sang the line about the "Islamic Landlord". The Moshpit was in full effect from the outset, with "Everything's AOR" getting the most enthusiastic response.
The bloke who shouts "What did god give Neil" was there and in full vocal effect, although he has now become a bit of a fixture, indeed as Nigel put it "Bless him, it wouldn't be the same without him".
One thing about Biccies gigs is that they are very civilised affairs. A few examples of this were when a drunk bloke tried to get onstage, he was very gently blocked from doing so by the lads in the "moshpit", and good naturedly pushed back from the stage without any need for the Security to intervene.
Also there were two charming thirtysomething ladies at the front who were "disco dancing" through the whole gig, yet no matter how frenzied the blokes got, as soon as they started to encroach on their personal space they paused and moved back to respectfully allow the girls to enjoy the gig without fear of an elbow in their face.
The venues stage is only a low affair, this meant that people at the back didn't get much of a view. The upside of this however was that the intimacy gave more opportunity for between song chat between Nigel and his public, indeed even the normally quiet Neil had a bit of banter going with the lad next to me. Indeed the pair of them seemed happier and more chirpy than any time I can remember seeing them.
The rest of the set contained in no particular order the following ( or at least these are the ones I remember )...
Twenty Four Hour Garage People ( including new purchases and prices )
We Built This Village On A Trad Arr. Tune
Corgi Registered Friend
Depressed Beyond Tablets
Shit Arm Bad Tattoo ( went down a storm )
Fear My Wraith
Joy Division Oven Gloves.
The obligatory cover version was a cracking version of "His Latest Flame"
All too soon it was over, but the encore performance of "Bottleneck at Capel Curig" was made even more enjoyable by the unveiling of Nigel's new guitar which was shaped like a Caravan !
Then the lights came up and I turned around to go, it was only then that I realised just how many people were at the small venue. I am rubbish at estimating numbers, but guess around the 500 mark would be conservative, and the gig was sold out long ago.
Can't wait for the next one !