Let us begin by considering how easy (or difficult) it can be to book tickets for shows these days. We were on holiday in Wales when this performance (and the ones in Leeds and Newcastle) was announced. Everything was sorted via Karen's laptop. Not much bother at all. Gone are the days of having to queue round the block at your local record shop, which invariably had the monopoly on the supply of tickets. However, as ever, we were left wondering about those cheeky little admin charges that are added to the price of your purchase. Karen seemed to be doing the bulk of the work, in terms of processing the order. So shouldn't her time make her due for a slight rebate, rather than be subject to an add-on? And the brinksmanship over the timing of the posting of tickets doesn't help either.
Later on in the summer, one of our jaunts was a bus ride from Skipton to Settle. Passing through Long Preston, we noticed a street named Tranmere Court. Well, you notice these things, don't you?
On a pilgrimage to Sheffield I stood outside the venue previously known as The Boardwalk. Site of many HMHB shows, it was subsequently re-born as what I used to know as a "night club", it's latest re-incarnation being Laser Zone. However when I was there it was clearly closed, as in "closed down". I took the time to read the notice outside paying homage to The Clash. Apparently their first ever gig was there, when the place was called The Black Swan, supporting The Sex Pistols. Before the Gods were born.
Not sure why I made a note of this, but I caught a glimpse of David James occupying Dictionary Corner on Countdown. On the subject of international goalkeepers, Karen told me that she used to work with Bob Wilson's brother, Hugh, in days gone by. There's a picture of him in one of the works magazines from way back when.
Apologies to the guy who came up to talk to me at Halifax station in August. He spotted my Urge For Offal t-shirt and said there were not many of those to be seen in the town. I may have given him slightly short shrift as I was getting frustrated trying to zip up my anorak. Hope you manage to get to the Leeds gig, whoever you are. On the subject of Leeds, we saw a guy with "Jairzinho 7" on the back of a Brazil shirt. I'm sure this would meet with Nigel's approval. He once made the comment about Jairzinho being the real star of the 1970 World Cup side, rather than Pele who gets all the attention. (RIP, Carlos Alberto by the way.) I had already made a note about Gerry Gow, before his demise. I was listening to Radio Sheffield's Football Heaven when a caller rang in to say that "Rotherham need a defender like Gerry Gow."
Karen and I had a night at The Leopard in Doncaster, scene of a gig by HMHB many years ago. (Actually it was the first time I posted a review. Far briefer in those days.) One of the bands appearing had the charming name of Biffins Bridge Collective. Ears pricked up when they opened their set with Cud's I've Had It With Blondes. But we were very pleased to hear not one, not two but three HMHB covers - namely For What Is Chatteris, 27 Yards Of Dental Floss and The Trumpton Riots. We moshed sedately.
Total media silence surrounding this show. According to The Lincolnshire Echo, there was only one gig in the region - Stolen Fridays at The Bull in Bracebridge Heath. Tickets available on the web? You also look out for potential HMHB songs from the headlines in the paper, such as "Excellent Hotel's One-Star Food Hygiene Rating". The back page also has a warning for all you Tranmere fans out there. "We're Only Just Getting Started" was the quote from Danny Cowley, Lincoln City's manager, declaring that his "Sincil Bank revolution is only just getting started". Mind you, Grimsby are after snapping him up.
The venue is part of what seems to be a new complex. Karen and I saw Buzzcocks in one of the other rooms nearly a year previously. It's all a bit "square box" and maybe needs to be a bit more lived in, but anywhere that hosts HMHB is a good place to my mind. According to the schedule drawn up by Howie, Daz, Gomez and Jez, a substantial pub crawl is available beforehand.
Sally and Jordan were already waiting outstide for the doors to open when we arrived. Soon there were others. There was at least a dozen of us. There had been rumour and counter rumour of an early curfew for the evening. This was confirmed by posters for the Jax Jones event, which was scheduled for a 10.00 start. That would mean an earlier than usual kick out from the HMHB show.
T-Shirt Of The Night award goes to John, for his Sturmey Archer number, showing all their products. Ordinarily Howie might have got the award for travelling furthest (from Dumfries, via Newcastle, York and Newark). But that effort was blown away when John introduced me to Gilles, who had dropped in from Paris. No prizes though. It's just for fun. What with Thorsten from Germany, the fan base is truly international now. There were one or two Wedding Present fans, enjoying the choice of music being played ahead of the live stuff.
Just had time for a quick Hello to Jay, Nigel/Charles/Exxo (making his first live appearance for a while, having been working away in Gran Canaria - I noticed him cheering the line about going to Spain with mates from work), and Nigel and Jo from Goole. I also had an update from Mike on Watford's latest fortunes. Things were up and running when The Flux Capacitors started the evening off at the unearthly hour of 7.15. I am still on a learning curve with this band. They played My Hair Is Thinning At The Front and Doctor I've Got A Bad Case Of Wanting To Die. There was also one about having a relationship with someone that you'd finished with twenty-five years previously.
Tonight's HMHB walk-on music was Henry Mancini's Touch Of Evil. Thanks to Daz's app for identifying this. Stage crew took their time switching on the lights, leaving the band to find their way in total darkness. "You can put the lights on now," said Nigel. This request was followed, and the set began with The Light At The End Of The Tunnel.
There was an early shout for Sealclubbing, which was initially rebuffed, although the first few notes were played later in the evening. (Karen and I also noted the appearance later on of David Essex performing the remarkable Nightclubbing on Top Of The Pops 1982).
Exxo very kindly pointed out that Nigel sang "It's the year 2153" rather than "It's the year 2163" at the start of This Leaden Pall. Andy Graver was spotted in the crowd. Thanks to Andrew at the side of me. I wouldn't have known that this was an Imps legend. Nigel pointed out that the band had called in at a deserted village on the way through to Lincoln. "Bit quiet," as he said. When asked if they had stopped at Doncaster Services, Nigel said they had actually called in at Hartshead Moor. Not the best. "Norton Canes, on the M6 Toll Road, is my favourite." He said they had seen the police arresting some kids who had stolen a crate of Red Bull. "I don't know how the bastards sleep at night," he added. Much laughter. Nigel explained that their route had been M62, M18, M180, A15. But they were stuck behind a van in slow moving traffic, and therefore couldn't properly see the Cathedral as they approached Lincoln. He questioned Neil's navigation skills. "We'd be in Immingham, if it was down to you." Nigel pondered over the best way home. The popular choice from the crowd was to go for the A46.
Nigel struggled with the opening chords of My Outstretched Arms. "You wouldn't think I wrote this, would you?" The slight variation of the line in Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis was "Why it's Wayne Gretski! It was you all along."
Nigel asked "Is anyone here from Lytham St Annes?" He thought there might be an outside chance. He had a book from a second-hand shop. It had an address in Lytham written in it. Couldn't totally work out what he was saying, but he seemed to want to track down the original owner.
He talked about the recent situation where Marmite was temporarily not being stocked by Tesco. More particularly, he gave his views on the myth that everyone either loves it or hates it. Nigel claims to have not tried Marmite until he was thirty-three. "Actually I think it's OK," he said, not feeling strongly either way. He was keen to dispute the conventional line of thought . He doesn't love it. He doesn't hate it. He is somewhere in the middle. "Celery on the other hand...," he continued. Tony shouted out that more energy is used up in eating celery than is given back. "That man is a genius!" replied Nigel, reminding himself of Tony's theramin joke. "I've been thinking about getting rid of my theramin. I haven't touched it for weeks."
Nigel stuck his plectrum to his forehead during the "working on the bins" section in Lark Descending. He mentioned a prog rock goth band called Dull, Dismal And Overcast. "It could be these three," he added, referring to Neil, Carl and Ken.
Neil had a "The Saints" t-shirt. Well actually, it was "The Saints The Saints The Saints The Saints". You assume it was the band of that name. But maybe it was Southampton FC. Or possibly St Helens RLFC.
There was an excerpt from a new song which seemed to be a protest song against organised Bat Walks. The gist seemed to be that Nigel prefers to do these things on his own in the middle of the night. Perhaps one to look out for in the future.
In Paintball's Coming Home, the mutual and lasting respect is also for Newton Faulkner and Tim Minchin. 1966 And All That was turning into The House Of The Rising Sun towards the end.
It was difficult not to notice the numbering system on the lights at the back of the stage. I read 128,185, 202 and 239. I'm sure it must mean something to somebody.
Nigel talked a bit about Pete Burns in answer to a request for You Spin Me Round. Geoff had put out the first Nightmares In Wax single on his Probe label. And of course Pete worked in the Probe shop in Liverpool. Apparently not a place that Nigel went to all that often. He was more a customer at Skeleton Records in Birkenhead.
In the encore, Nigel announced one of the songs as being about a visit to Primark. He asked for "Short Socks Adult Size". Which I suppose sounds a bit like "Shot Shot By Both Sides".
On my way out I met Tony The Driver, still faithfully filling work vans with HMHB compilations. Good to catch up again. Afterwards a few of us went to the Treaty Of Commerce to compare notes,. Carl had thrown his set list to Karen. It looks like the initial plan was to play Chatteris and Bad Wools, but these were both missing from what was actually played. Paintball appeared, but was not in the original set.The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train
And three in the encore:Joy Division Oven Gloves
The CD And Some Fell On Stony Ground was available from Miles and Zinny at the shop, in Geoff's absence. Picked up a copy ahead of the rush.
The following night we were off to Derby to see The Lovely Eggs play a splendid show. I've had worse weekends.