Despite his absence from this show, Gomez made a contribution by drawing attention by text to an appearance by Sally James on Pointless just before Christmas. Quite rightly, that's one for the scrapbook. On the same subject, just before we set out to The Liquid Room, Karen and I watched an episode of the programme. Dave Bartram, legendary former frontman with Showaddywaddy swept all before him, ably assisted (debatably) by Dave Hill from Slade. Not really relevant, but worth including here.
The train ride to Edinburgh was a bind. Not much room for studious thought, as the carriage was dominated by a hen party making its way from London to Newcastle. And when they got off, they were replaced by a similar group making their way from Newcastle to Edinburgh. Next time we'll get the quiet carriage. We noted that the first lot were slugging champagne, while the second group were on cider and cans of Budweiser. Is there some social commentary in there?
I must admit that I don't always have a good time at this venue. I can't get used to the concept of a toilet attendant. And £2.50 for a bottle of water does seem a trifle pricey, but that's city policies for you. Nevertheless, I was well impressed by the Northern Soul aspect of the interval music.
The King Of Hi Vis popped over to say Hello. He had been talking to someone who had travelled from Hamburg to see the show. Needs must. After all, it is unlikely that the band will ever go in the opposite direction. Good also to catch up with Paul at a home gig for him, and later Howie and Daz turned up. Daz gets the Best T-Shirt award for the James Brown's Funky People number.
There was a "Madchester" night afterwards, which must have put a bit of a timetable on the evening. John of JD Meatyard, in particular, seemed keen to get a move on. He was constantly checking his watch as they worked their way through the set of favourites old and new. I noted the new (or maybe temporary) drummer. All the hits were there. Come Take The Ride, St Peter Won't Let Me In, Lies Lies And Government and Standing On The Shoulders. John announced "The last time I was in Edinburgh was in 1991 supporting Echo And The Bunnymen. You love me so much." Looking forward to the new album, which doesn't sound like it is far away.
HMHB's walk on music was a dramatic number. I have it on good authority (from Tony and Karen) that it was The Immolation Scene from Wagner's Gotterdammerung, conducted by Solti. If they were going to play the whole thing, we would have had to turn up on around the Wednesday before the gig. I'll leave it for another time before I hear it all the way through. Apparently the Ring Cycle lasts only slightly less than the whole HMHB catalogue.
Immediately the band was beset by one of those technical difficulties that come around every so often. "Having problems with the strap?" Nigel asked Neil. It wasn't quite so simple, and there was a bit of time taken while the latter was fiddling around. I don't even pretend to understand the technicalities, but there was a fair delay. In the meantime we got Nigel raising a glass to Geraldine McEwan who had exited stage left. He took the opportunity of the gap in proceedings to give us a provisional performance of a new song, A Man In Constant Sorrow. After a couple of verses he said to Ken, "There'll be a guitar solo in here in about three years." Then came Vatican Broadside, and a game of word association ("Carole King", "Tapestry"). Neil was still not ready, so we had a description of the journey to the gig. They went M6, M74, M8, ignoring the advice of Geoff to take the A7 through Hawick. The band arrived before Geoff did. They had also called at Tebay Services, where Neil bought some Peruvian chocolate which was not full spec. Also Nigel had picked up some leaflets including on Loch Lomond and an exhibition of toy soldiers. He even asked me if I was collecting school vouchers. (For the record. No, I'm not.) It was all interesting stuff. I would have been happy to carry on listening, but Neil eventually plugged in OK, to great cheers. "I got it right first time," commented Nigel to the crowd in general, "and you didn't cheer me." From there on, the evening was more music-based.
Pam Ferris was spotted in the crowd. Numanoid Hangglide was written for anyone with a toposcope. Ahead of Bad Losers, Nigel said "This is about..." and pointed silently towards Neil. (I noticed that Dennis Bell in the Torquay shirt was well "into it" during this song, for obvious reasons.) Victoria joined the band on stage for Adam Boyle. She was playing a tenor horn, not a cornet, according to Nigel who added "She was in Brassed Off, as a child, unless she's lying." She came back later, to play bass on Urge For Offal.
There were a few old favourite lines in the repertoire. The Bane Of Constance was about "where a stab victim meets the offender for coffee, and the coffee is shit." "Who sang Tiger Feet? Sweet or Mud?... That's right, that's right, that's right." "What do the penguins at the zoo get for lunch? Half an hour like everybody else." And the one about being annoyed when you see Orang Utan(g) spelt incorrectly. Keep 'em coming, Nigel.
Neil and Ken swapped instruments for The Bane Of Constance. Nigel was asked for his tip for the Tour De France. He said the top four (Nibali etc) are way ahead of the rest. But he said he had been given 150/1 on Kwiatkowski, who recently became world champion. Maybe these gigs will come to an end if that one comes off. Or perhaps William Hills know something that you don't, Nigel. Ken was the first man in Wallasey to eat Kettle Crisps. We got the intro to D'Ye Ken Ted Moult before Nigel introduced The Unfortunate Gwatkin.
I remember the cover version being played at a large gig in Liverpool many years ago. They may have played it since, but my memory fails me yet again. There are always bits and pieces of songs during the course of these shows, which I don't always include in these lists. Having thought long and hard about it, while the kettle boiled, I have included the opening song here, even though it was probably only played as a filler because of the problems at the start.A Man In Constant Sorrow
And three in the encore...Stuck Up A Hornbeam
Returning to the train theme, there was a bloke sitting behind us on the way home, wearing an Urge For Offal t-shirt. He too, was affected by the "train failure" at Alnmouth, which subsequently sent the timetable spiralling out of control. Talking of timetables, there is a bit of a gap with HMHB now. As Karen said to me as we were walking along Princes Street, "What are we going to do for the next five months?"