Who says town centres all look the same? Bilston is a reminder of home. Charity shops, Betfred, phone shops, payday loan offers. All is familiar terrain. The Major remains as fine as ever though. Top quality chip butty, and they even asked if I wanted butter on! This kind of customer service was only matched by the guy at the bus station, who was happy to point me in the right direction of the venue. And he gave me a free map! Noting the rock 'n' roll night at The Imperial with The King Cats (will they do Bad Wools, I wonder?), I was in Woody's bar without too much trauma.
Doors opened slightly later than the advertised 7.30, and I headed the trickle of folk making their way to Geoff's emporium. Actually I was just trying to find out if any more gigs are on the way. Nothing definite for the time being, it seems, although negotiations are under way here and there. Watch this space.
Support was from Shifty Chicken Shed. Yet another "slightly different" band. Apparently they got together at a Wilfred Owen Peace Evening in Oswestry. Not many can say that. "Bear" was a particularly interesting start to their set. And the cover of Army Dreamers did it justice. It was good to see the washboard is not totally redundant as a musical instrument. I'm sure these people must know Lovecraft. They ought to consider a collaboration.
Bit of a surprise when HMHB came on. A new guitar for Nigel. "I use this one at home," he pointed out. And he told us all later that he wrote Dukla Prague Away Kit on this one. Apparently the band all made their own way to Bilston (don't royalty adopt a similar plan when flying?). We were informed of delays on the A49, leading Nigel to tell us the one about Bob Marley's accident compensation firm - No Win No Fee. Nigel was worried about a lead that he had paid £20 for. Time alone will tell whether or not that was a worthy investment. Ken was complimented for his guitar work on A Lilac Harry Quinn. "He's worth his weight in.. well, I won't say gold...". There was a joke about the Mayor Of Dudley being impotent/important. Too difficult to put into writing. You'll need to speak to someone who was there. The "errr" bit at the end of Dukla Prague has always been my favourite bit of a HMHB song, but the "Betterware Man" line in Excavating Rita is coming up on the rails. I was in total agreement with the line at the end of Mountain Bikes - "That's when I first said that the FA Cup on ITV is wrong." To kick off the final at 5.15 is a crime against the nation. This brought Nigel round to telling us about Steve Claridge's role on The Championship. "When they introduce him, he has this look that says I've Left The Grill On." Local celebrity spottings were Andy Mutch, Derek Statham, and of course Carl Henry. I even got pulled up for taking notes. "You'll thank him one day," came a supporting voice. And Nigel told me that I now appear on Coronation Street - Eileen's sister's bloke. Er, thanks for that. Nigel announced that he is now an elitist wood snob. Apparently kiln dried logs are the way forward. Nice drum solo from Carl on Irk The Purists. ELO - "the band that The Beatles could have been." Hyper inflation at the 24 Hour Garage - £2.96 for the Pringles. The guy behind the glass adopts a "surly bus driver" approach. The local eccentric Ziggy Sawdust is in the queue - wanting alphabet spaghetti with the vowels taken out. Other items required were unleaded soup, Stations Of The Crass, a Yorkie, a Toffee Crisp and a copy of Razzle, "but only if Pam Ferris is in it." Messerschmitt and Spitfire are in the Word Search. When the Ipod comes off, you can hear The Smurfs, and a snippet of Paranoid - "finished with my woman cos she couldn't help me with my tax." And did you hear the joke about Skippy? It's another one you can't tell in writing. No Trumpton tonight. No cover version. No Titmus. And no Kendo either. Plenty out of the back of the drawer instead. And the ATV theme was tucked in there between Floreat Inertia and Vatican Broadside. The mosh pit was full on. Like a tag team contest at times.
We heard the following:
Joy In Leeuwarden
Bottleneck At Capel Curig
When The Evening Sun Goes Down
Turned Up Clocked On Laid Off
Left Lyrics In Practice Room
A Lilac Harry Quinn
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes
Improv Workshop Mimeshow Gobshite
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
L'Enfer C'Est Les Autres
National Shite Day
Best Things In Life (just the end bit)
We Built This Village
1966 And All That
Irk The Purists
Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools
24 Hour Garage People
Tommy Walsh's Eco House
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Joy Division Oven Gloves
For What Is Chatteris?
And for the encore...
I Love You Because You Look Like Jim Reeves
Fix It So She Dreams Of Me
99% Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd
So that's it. Nothing in writing for the time being. See you wherever, whenever.