First off, a few notes from the afternoon. Bimbi's may well claim to serve probably the best fish and chips in the world. But that's no good to me if the place is closed for repairs. Instead I made do with Saddlers Coffee Bar. Total thumbs up for anywhere that serves apple crumble with custard. Not everywhere does custard, and this was of a particularly high standard. I could have done without East 17's Christmas hit playing in the background though. I also called into The Shakespeare ("one of the most haunted pubs in Britain"). The ghosts left me alone to enjoy some splendid Deuchars.
A quick review of the papers showed no repeat of the media frenzy surrounding the Preston show. It was back to normal tonight, with only the briefest of mentions in the listings section of The Durham Times. Tucked in underneath The Thorns appearing in Chester-Le-Street. And above Mark (yes, Mark) Almond at Gateshead.
To the evening. One of the many reasons why I will never write for NME is my constant failure to make a note of the names of bands. So all I can tell you about the support is that they were full of beans, with plenty of growling and that bending-over-backwards-playing-the-guitar manoeuvre. And the front guy also laid into his guitar with a drumstick. All good stuff.
HMHB's spot was preceded by Tony letting me have his thoughts on Durham as a University town. Fair enough. There was also the story he had seen on local TV where they asked the guy in charge of gritting the roads how on earth he was able to get to work. Life imitating art yet again? And my attention had been diverted by a sign-post on the edge of town pointing to "School For Education". There was an obvious question to ask, but perhaps I'm just out of touch. We also got involved in an interesting conversation with another guy who was interested in finding out more about the works of I Ludicrous. And we were all taken by the big screens on display, which gave the evening an element of Rock Goes To College. Without being too opinionated about it, the weather tonight was not great. One guy outside was trying to flog a ticket. His mate had let him down because of the snow and ice. Part-time supporter! This partly explains why it seemed to be a little more roomy in the pit.
Either it was a slightly dodgy sound system, or my hearing is in decline. Probably the latter. But I just wasn't picking up a lot of Nigel's communication with his audience. There was something about a health and safety issue, and it was good of him to clarify the spelling of "Siddle", with reference to the Australia bowler who had achieved a hat-trick on the opening day of the Ashes. Nigel also treated us, I think, to an impression of the starter of the Grand National (you had to be there). And there was a joke. Not word for word, but it was about Calvin Klein's new aftershave. "Breadcrumbs". It attracts the birds. Positively Tom O'Connor. But the peak was his perfect timing as he tied his shoelace during Ken's guitar break in "Harry Quinn".
A few regulars were caught out by the slightly earlier start, but they were in to see most of the following:
99% Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd
Yipps (My Baby Got The)
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
If I Had Possession Over Pancake Day
Bob Wilson Anchor Man / Foot Up In Europe
A Lilac Harry Quinn
Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess
Look Dad No Tunes
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes ("That's when I first said that a re-make of The Wicker Man won't work")
Running Order Squabble Fest
We Built This Village On A Trad Arr Tune
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
Left Lyrics In The Practice Room
National Shite Day
Twenty-Four Garage People (They had no Pringles! Instead Nigel went for Monster Munch at 67 pence. I liked the line about "Snickers Conspiracy", ref The Fall 1983)
For What Is Chatteris?
1966 And All That
Tommy Walsh's Eco House
The Trumpton Riots
A Country Practice
And the encore (I can't remember them ever covering The Who before) was
Evening Of Swing
I'm A Boy
Joy Division Oven Gloves
The amount of whooping and hollering after JDOG suggested that there might be a further encore. No such luck. So it was off to the Head Of Steam with Paul and Tony. We'll re-convene in Holmfirth. I'm meeting up with a HMHB first-timer, Alan an ex-colleague. I may have to stay by the bar and act as Gig Consultant but I'll try and drag him to a more suitable vantage point.