The five months gap since the Edinburgh show allowed me and Karen to catch up with other goings-on in the music world. For example, excellent CD s and gigs by The Fall, The Nightingales, The Band Of Holy Joy, The Lovely Eggs and Shatner (who are currently very possibly the second best band in the world ever). We will certainly be making time for all five of them again as soon as possible. We also gave Kate Tempest, The Ainsley Band, Brix And The Extricated a go. Kept us busy during the hiatus. But all roads inevitably lead back to HMHB. In this case the road was the A638. Dead easy on this occasion, thanks to the 485 via Nostell, Crofton and Agbrigg. It didn't seem quite right, getting to a gig after a thirty-minute bus ride, rather than a three-change train journey to various points north, south, east and west. But I'm not complaining. Well, actually yes I am. The bus was twelve minutes late.
I must confess to being slightly surprised by the choice of venue. When I first got wind of the suggestion that HMHB were going to play in Wakefield, I thought they would be going for the re-furbished Unity Works just up the road. No matter. What's good for The Fall and The Undertones is good for HMHB. And I noticed that King Kurt are due there in July. The cleaners will have to work a double shift after that one. Maybe we'll see HMHB at Unity next time they are in town. And surely there will be a next time. It can't have escaped anyone's notice that there was near enough a full house for tonight's show.
I hadn't particularly been on the look-out for band mentions, but HMHB seem to have (as usual) been keeping a particularly low profile. The only reminders of their existence were the mention of "a band from Birkenhead" in an article about Dukla Prague in When Saturday Comes. And a more spurious link came in a text from Gomez who said he had seen The Solihull News refer to bogus officials operating in the area. With no reference to them being courteous, friendly, jolly or fat. Gomez also noted that during the second Test between England and New Zealand, on Test Match Special Jeremy Coney referred to the English team being in the "slough of despond". Is there a copyright on that particular phrase? If there is, I doubt it belongs to HMHB. All changed with the media interest in the gig. One of the guys on Radio Leeds' BBC Introducing programme enthused "That will be a cracking gig. I wish I could go to that." The Wakefield Express gave HMHB about twice the space that Chas And Dave got for their show at The Theatre Royal. But the article (headed " 'The Biscuit' Are Coming To Town" with a picture of Nigel taking up about a quarter of the page) was a Cut And Paste job. I've seen it on the web here and there. I'm all for lazy journalism, but we can all expect a little better than the reference to "their latest album CSI Ambleside". There's no such thing as bad publicity though, and that was certainly more than you get in most papers. The Yorkshire Post were brief and to the point in their Listings section, with a spot of alliteration. "Known for satirical, sardonic and sometimes surreal songs with original members Nigel Blackwell and Neil Crossley." The Pontefract And Castleford Express featured a small picture of Nigel, with Carl in the background. There's a first time for everything. Pre-gig, some lovely tunes were played on the PA. Not quite to the standard of the people who did the DJing at The Boardwalk a few years back, but you wouldn't always expect to hear the likes of Evidently Chickentown by John Cooper Clarke, Nervous Wreck by Radio Stars or This Perfect Day by The Saints. (During HMHB's set, I also noted The Saints scrawled on Neil's acoustic guitar, along with many other band names, when they played Adam Boyle.)
If I'd known Roja were going to be the support band, I would have swotted up on their album Promises I Should Have Kept. Copies were still available at the merchandise stall. I recognised Heart Attack, The End and The Evil Stands High. But I definitely need to get clued up on the whole album. They now have a new bassist, and we agreed between ourselves that they appear to have dropped a guitarist. From talking to people, Roja are not to everyone's taste, but they will do for me.
It was good to catch up with so many people after such a gap between gigs. The King Of Hi Vis made a special effort, turning up in a satin jacket with detachable sleeves. Maybe it was a bit warm for that, but you have to admire it when people make an effort. Dennis Bell was also noted, with his Torquay shirt and Standard Liege scarf. So who does he support if/when they play each other?
HMHB came on stage to Queimada by Ennio Morricone. Admittedly, I had to check that with Geoff after the gig. Nigel was wearing a Denley Moor Wheelers cycling shirt. Neil had his Hats Off To Steve Hanley t-shirt. I assume it's been washed since last time. Ken had his long-sleeved checked shirt, and Carl a plain t-shirt. Don't worry, fashion reports are not going to become a feature of these reports.
The usual bad hearing meant I couldn't pick up everything that was said on stage, but I'll have a go. Nigel asked if I was collecting school vouchers. He said they are starting to clutter up the house. He now operates a sound effects device which provided a declining response to repeated shouts from the Rotherham Postie of What Did God Give Us, Neil?
The line from Outbreak Of Vitas Geralitis ("Why it was you, Mr Krzywicki!") gave me the opportunity to check the spelling of the aforementioned former Huddersfield Town (and others) player. There was a tale from the band visit to the James Herriot museum in Thirsk. Apparently the museum tells you that you don't have to have read the books in order to get the most from the experience (Nigel points at Ken). But Nigel was also concerned to note that the tea shop closed at 3.30. However they were still letting people into the museum at 3.15, therefore not giving them time to have a look round AND have a cup of tea at the end. "We wrote this one in Rottingdean," was announced, ahead of Numanoid Hangglide. There was some muttering between Nigel and Neil about Candidate by Joy Division. Maybe a cover version for the future? The conversation between Nigel and Tony about capos and bridges was lost on me.
"We just made this one up," said Nigel before My Outstretched Arms. There was a bit of speculation about Ronnie Moore's sacking as Tranmere manager. Nigel recommended viewing a fight between John Cooke and Brian McCaffrey on You Tube. That's one from way back when. Many years ago, the band did a live session for (I think) Andy Kershaw where Nigel vocalised the flute opening of When The Sun Goes Down. Tonight he did a similar thing with the horn bits on Adam Boyle. Dennis Bell's Torquay shirt prompted Nigel's tale about going to see Tranmere play at Plainmoor, when there was a ban on away fans. Nigel was ready to run onto the pitch when Tranmere scored. But, being Tranmere, they failed to do so, and Nigel was able to retain his anonymity.
There was a nice line about going shopping with Iggy Pop, with "a bag for life". Nigel said that National Shite Day was for Steven, Geoff's son, whose presence will be greatly missed. There was excellent audience participation in the "er" bit at the end of Dukla Prague. One of the best I can remember. Neil and Ken swapped instruments for The Bane Of Constance. Nigel noted that Wakefield is the forced rhubarb capital of the world. Not that the world is all that bothered. "They don't give a fuck about it in St Kitts and Nevis." Nigel sang (not literally) the praises of Norton Canes services on the M6 Toll road. Tebay appears to have been knocked off the top spot. Apparently coach drivers now get a free meal there. He also mentioned childhood trips to Cardigan Bay being "fucked up" when Carla Laine bought one of the islands there.
Sorry for showing my ignorance of early punk songs. Not sure whether Alternative TV's work is entitled "Action Time Vision" or just "ATV", so I have gone for the extended title here. Apparently Mark Lawrenson collects Lladro figurines. And Monty Don is the best dressed person on television. Those two facts are all we need to know, apart from the songs.Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride
And in the encore there wasAction Time Vision
Just like The Jeremy Kyle Show, these evenings bring people together. Afterwards, there I was in a pub in Wakefield (the excellent Harry's Bar) along with Paul from Leith, Tony from Birmingham and Pete from Worksop. It beats sitting in the same place with the same people having the same conversation on a Friday night. Maybe not. Maybe that's what I'm missing. I'll think about that for a week, before heading for Bury St Edmunds. Thanks to Karen and Tony as always for technical consultation. And to Carl for passing me his set list. There were a few discrepancies on there. Most notably, "Cliched" was due to be played. It would have been interesting to hear that one at the beginning of June, but they obviously thought better of it. But there were also several others that were dropped, while other songs which were played, had not appeared on the original list. Intriguing.