I should know better by now, as they say; I know the score. It was a Friday and I had to get from London to Glasgow in the car and I made it quite clear to myself that I needed to leave by 10:30 a.m. to have sufficient time to allow for road disruption and to check into the hotel pre-gig. Portentous; bearing in mind events later.
As ever, I didn't leave until midday and as such, caught a jam at Northampton. A customary 30 minute delay ensued while we watched the carnage to the metal cages caused by not keeping anything near close to chevron apart. I still haven't worked out why everyone has to slow down to have a good look, but I guess that human nature is to be curious and hope that there is not a casualty. Further sluggish traffic ensued between the M6 toll and Haydock. The M6 between Stoke and Knutsford has to be one of the most overcrowded bits of motorway in the European Union, but as ever, I diversify and that is a hobby horse for the blog that I'll never get round to writing.
Suffice to say, time was getting tight and I had to hold back the urge to stop at all, let alone at the very conveniently placed Tebay. As it happened, this may have done me a favour. Nigel fired off a mild broadside at Tebay. When in the act of leading into his rant, he asked Roger (Green - the professional Reviewer) if he'd stopped off on the way up. "No? They (points around at the band) stopped off at Tebay, but I refused. I sat in the van because it's eating itself. Tebay now, thinks it's better than it is. It's eating itself; Tebay Services. I sat in the van listening to The Residents." He quite properly followed this up with the chorus of 'Perfect Love' - "There's something I must tell you, there's something I must say; the really perfect love, is the one that got away."
Anyway, to save you from the rest of my Glaswegian waffle should you have better things to do, how about the set-list? Here you go:Evening Sun
I am personally very pleased that "Fear My Wraith" is back in favour, which vies with "Ordinary to Enschede" as my favourite song. Depends upon how I feel. Wraith is a well constructed tune, with the right level of lyrical pathos and it still makes me chuckle. I am also fondly reminded of the gig at The Waterfront in Norwich in 2008. A couple of local Likely Lads had more than amply sampled the local cider and were finding their own comedy heckling considerably more amusing than the rest of us. However, after the umpteenth request for "Fear My Wrath", Nigel had to correct them. It was beginning to irk and to be fair; they did quieten down for at least a minute having received the rebuke.
The ABC, sorry O2 ABC is a good venue. The sound was not half bad, it showcased the excellent support from "Roja" very well and it was a well supported gig. Decent crowd in terms of number and behaviour, although the mosh-pit was rather muted judged against recent efforts. However, I suspect that this was a function of an early start and the capacious venue. It did seem a little "rushed", because of the early curfew, but there were still the usual number of songs, perhaps a little bit less chat in between songs and possibly; less mid-set instrument tuning. It's a world that I don't inhabit anymore, but the venue was booked for a disco at 11:00 p.m. Not sure if was student, fancy dress or grab-a granny. Maybe a miasma of all three.
However, never fear; Nigel still had plenty of morsels of wisdom for our delectation. For starters, he reminded us that the nights will be drawing-in; in about a fortnight's time. I had forgotten that it gets darker later in Scotland in the Summer anyway and this was immediately noticeable on departing the ABC. At the conclusion of "Mountain Bikes" we were informed that; "before the gods that made the gods woke up and made the gods, that's when I was saying, that's when I was saying, that Countryfile is dying on its arse." I can't say, but Nigel is a devotee, so I'm prepared to take his word for it.
In other news, Nigel thought that Sebastian Coe was a lizard. "Lord Shape-shifter. Just an observation." The venue security and audience were not immune from his observations. "I've said it before and I'll say it again, (points at the barrier huggers) looks like the methadone counter at Boots." I just picture (points at the security chap facing out from the stage) explaining this to a psychiatrist in twenty years time." Whether it was linked, probably not; "Shit Arm" was prefaced with the sad tale of Nigel's Uncle George. "This song is about taking my Uncle George to one of those things where the fish feed on your feet. Took my Uncle George. Only £35. Cheaper than a funeral."
Ken, as usual, was cast in the role of the silent stooge. "First man in Wallasey to eat a cornetto." Also, some sartorial advice from Nigel; "Your jeans are going to be soaking and you won't have anything else tomorrow." It was quite warm in the venue, more so under the lights; "That's why we wore shorts. We didn't want to, but these are easier to run under the tap in the hotel room and dry by the morning. You're gonna be fcuked tomorrow, 'cos you're gonna have to walk around in your....... underpants, basically."
The rest of the band were not spared the rod. "They're probably going to Housesteads (Roman Fort & Museum) on the way to Stockton tomorrow. Again, I'll probably just sit in the van, eating humane foie gras."
And so on to the final unscripted part of the sermon. Inevitably, at this time of the year, one of the congregation asked Nigel was going to win Le Tour. "It seems to be between Contador and Froome. But in December last year, I got 80-1 on the young French lad, Thibaut Pinot... sorry, I got 100-1 on him because he was the best young rider last year. I got 80-1 on Pierre Rolland. Sorry, bit boring this (to everyone else). But, with it being 100 years, the French are going to go all out for it. So I reckon......... it'll be Contador or Froome; won't it? Great last night, did you see Contador and Froome last night? Don't tell me what happened tonight, by the way. I haven't seen it. Got it taped at the house on Cable +. Don't tell me about Pointless, either. I was made up for that couple who won eight-and-a-half grand. They were great, they were. They covered all the bases, they were excellent. The things I have to do..." The last sentence was uttered with a knowing nod in Ken's direction, as he was busy tuning up.
So there you have it. The Biscuits highlights package, not exclusively on Sky like so much top-line sport these days. I would say business as usual. Some good banter, good sound and some pretty good tunes. I was chatting to the very nice Gentlemen from "Roja" after the gig and we agreed that HMHB do just keep getting better. As time goes on, the tunes get better. Start working on your own theories...
So we march on to Stockton. It's Part II of a double-header. In fact, Part I of a double double-header. Hope the Southern contingent can get to Stowmarket and Cambridge.