It was hard to avoid the media blitz ahead of this show. This constituted a re-run of HMHB's appearance on Whistle Test many moons ago (I think I am right in believing that the "Old Grey" part of the programme's title had been dropped by then). The performance of Trumpton Riots was included in a BBC4 Indie collection. Shame they couldn't have shown All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit as well. Maybe next time. And there was also a pre-recorded interview on the Liz Kershaw show on BBC 6 Music, with Nigel at the other end of the phone line. I suppose no publicity is bad publicity, but I have heard better radio, and it would have helped if Liz could have given out the correct details for the forthcoming Bilston (Wolverhampton) show.
In the run-up to the London show, there were a couple of other looser HMHB connections in the media. Nick Fucking Knowles was on The One Show the day before. It was over to Channel Four News for me. And there was a question on University Challenge. Points were awarded where an evidently incorrect answer was given - "The Book Of Revelations". If Paxman had been more astute with his musical knowledge, then he would have spotted that, and been less generous.
On the Thursday morning of the gig, it was all very leisurely for me. Thanks to Karen for the forward planning. £22 for a Pontefract Monkhill to King's Cross return struck me as a good deal. And the timing of the train allowed for a leisurely dawdle round the old home town, taking in a sausage butty at the Prince Of Wales Hospice café in the Market Hall, and I gave due consideration to the remains of a Gouranga poster which had been stuck on the bridge at the station.
I had never travelled on a Grand Central train before. "Railway The Right Way" is their claim (and it is difficult to argue with on-time arrivals and departures on both legs of the journey). I was particularly taken by the chess boards and Monopoly boards which were imprinted on their tables. Obviously designed for multi-taskers. I wonder if they have ever thought of taking it a step further and facilitating Table Tennis in their carriages.
Karen arrived about forty minutes after me, having had a horror journey. A fire at Beeston station caused everything coming out of Nottingham to be cancelled, so she had had to be re-routed via Grantham. Still, it all came together in the end, and we checked in at the Premier Inn on Euston Road. Room 247, the old Medium Wave location for Radio One, which meant that some of their jingles were annoyingly hanging round in my head for the duration.
St Pancras to Kentish Town is only four minutes on the Thameslink train, which enabled us to be through the door and down to the front on the dot of 7 o'clock. Fortunately it was Tony's round (£3 for a bottle of water). The music being played was straight from the Chill Out Zone, definitely more suited to the support band, Sonnenberg, than HMHB. Sure enough we were all in an ambient frame of mind when Sonnenberg arrived. They opened up with The End Of The Rain and played about half a dozen others. They said Hello to a couple of friends from Germany, Jochen and Guido, neither of whom seemed to be in the audience. And they stressed again that they are the hippy band on Probe Plus. It's easy to see why. I am keen to see them stocked up with Nivea powder for their tabla, so handed over a fiver for the new CD on my way out.
It was good to see the security personnel at this gig taking a more liberal approach than the Glasgow people to The King Of Hi Vis's jacket. It certainly doesn't look all that dangerous to me, and I am glad to report that he was fully attired. Lee aka Denis Bell was also in, and Daz, Howie and Gomez sunk their last pints just in time for HMHB's arrival a couple of minutes ahead of the advertised start time of 9.00.
Tony reckoned the Walk On music was Forty Miles Of Bad Road by Duane Eddy. I can't be bothered to check, but I suspect this was the first time that the band have opened up their set with Look Dad No Tunes. Early doors, Karen got a telling off when taking a photo. No flash photography! Nigel pointed out Clive Swift in the crowd. He also spotted a moth.
Nigel explained that he had wanted to go to Highgate Cemetry, to the more interesting west section. But it was £14 to get in, you had to book in advance, and in any case it was sold out. The punchline was "Pre-book for the Pre-Raphaelites! Pre-posterous!"
We just got the "sole of the slipper" bit of The Best Things In Life. Nigel played a riff and said something about having been in the back of the van listening to The Residents. There was the traditional sticking of plectrum to the forehead routine during Lark Descending. Nigel pointed to the other three and said "These all went to Denmark Street. Ken went to PC World afterwards. You've got to watch what you say in there, these days."
If I Had Possession Over Pancake Day was written by Gordon Greenidge. Nigel spotted Eleanor Oldroyd in the crowd. "This one's for you, Eleanor," he announced, ahead of Bob Wilson Anchor Man. "Great goalkeeper, mind," he added after the song. There were a couple of jeers when Nigel started drinking his water from a cup. "It's less yobbish, and you appreciate it better," he replied.
Nigel sang the words "Bag For Life", being a song about going shopping with Iggy Pop. He announced Carl as being the first man in The Wirral to own a labradoodle. After Asparagus Next Left, Nigel advised us "See also: Free Car Park." He then mentioned about seeing an Award Winning Butcher's shop. He despaired that all butchers appear to be award-winning. He said he uses a butcher back home because they have never won any awards. "It could be that the award is for the worst sausages in Europe," he explained.
A joke. "Who's there? Knock Knock. The large Hadron collider." Ken's new gig haircut was pointed out by Nigel. Nigel's response to a shout of "What did God give us?" was "Julian Worricker". And then we had a story about Nigel's visit to Cecil Sharp House. "Their PR is not great. I ordered two cups of tea and a muffin. It was five pounds and the tea was in plastic cups. The cups were not what you might expect. There was a woman doing some washing up, when I was looking for somewhere to put my used teabags. She asked me if everything was OK and I told her I just wanted somewhere to put the teabags. She just said 'Oh'."
Neil and Ken swapped instruments (and places on stage) for The Bane Of Constance and Twenty Seven Yards Of Dental Floss. This gave us the opportunity to examine Neil's t-shirt more closely. Karen spotted that it referred to three great bassists - Jean Jacques Burnel, Steve Hanley and Peter Hook. Of course some of us might want to add Neil himself to that list.
There was a short extract from A Man In Constant Sorrow just before Vatican Broadside. During Dukla Prague Away Kit, Nigel ad libbed a little after the £3.10 transformer line. "It was quite expensive in those days, but still cheaper than two cups of tea and a muffin at Cecil Sharp House." In the same song he said "both right-backs" were sent off.
Carl changed his top for the encore, opting for a Forest Green Rovers t-shirt. There was a brief interlude of Freight Train in the encore, which also included a cover version of an Odyssey hit, which none of us would ever have guessed in advance, as well as an oldie but goodie which has not appeared for a while.
The main set wasLook Dad No Tunes
And the encore wasJarg Armani
This was (yet) another great show. Lively mosh pit with a spot of crowd surfing. Strictly not allowed. Afterwards Tony spoke with one of the security guys, who said that he was now a convert. That was good to hear. Meanwhile there are eight weeks to go until the Bilston show. That will be a struggle.