A slight update on the four-for-a-pound peach Majestic situation, as introduced into the public domain by Nigel at the Sheffield gig in August. Well, an update as such. On the way back from the Bath gig we called in at Worcester. We headed for the Iceland there in hope. It seemed to be one of their larger stores. But still no luck. They didn't even have mint ones. So we headed off to catch the last hour of the Worcestershire v Leicestershire game. Worcestershire were chasing a very modest target. They succeeded well before tea was due. It was a very gentle introduction to county cricket for Karen.
We spotted some, frankly shoddy, marketing for the gig. Courtesy of Huddle, "your essential guide to what's on in Huddersfield". HMHB are described as "British indie folk rock, a rare treat". Not arguing with that. But they had the show as being on Sunday 10 September. Only twelve days out. Perhaps as a result of this, there was total silence in The Yorkshire Post. Cabbage were the only band listed at The Picturedrome over the following week. Of course that was just in the Rock And Pop section. HMHB could just as likely appear under "Light", "Classical", "Jazz" or "Folk". But nope, there was nothing there. Steven Van Zandt got a double-page interview ahead of his show in Leeds though. It was the same with an examination of The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. There was a picture of the singer from Cabbage, and The Horrors got the main feature on the Sound Out column. The Illegal Eagles also got a name check. But there was nothing about HMHB. No matter. It was a full house tonight nevertheless.
We had to overcome a little logistical difficulty. The car park at The Old Bridge was taken over by a Food And Drink fair. We had been slightly worried about this also affecting the band. Can you imagine Nigel carting his amp through town? They ended up parking in a yard belonging to the venue owner. We had a space in the car park of Piccolino's restaurant. The morning chorus of the bouncing metalwork of market stalls ensured an early start to the Saturday morning. And a batallion of Showsec personnel was in place to ensure that all parking was in order.
We arrived in Holmfirth early in the afternoon and immediately retired to the bar. John was there, and we were joined by Andrew and Jay. And it was great to see Postman Tony again, at his first gig for some time. He was showing a fair commitment. Not driving, not stopping over. Instead he was getting a taxi back to Manchester. Hope that turned up OK for him.
Karen and I decided to take the afternoon air, just in time to see Tony's car come to a stop near the stage door. I warned him off with a hearty "You can't park there!" and he was soon despatched to Piccolino's. Anything to save Showsec a job. Nigel and Neil were in attendance. I established that Ken was absent once again. More tests were taking place. Here's hoping for a good result. During the gig later, Nigel said that one of Ken's results had looked good like a Trescothick wagon wheel. That good, eh?
We continued our stroll, taking in the Kirkwood Hospice shop, a second-hand book sale at the church across the road from The Picturedrome and Daisy Lane Bookshop. None of them were able to help us with our quest for George Gissing novels. We sought consolation in a giant size packet of chocolate chip cookies from Sainsburys. And a particular comfort was that we were around when Geoff turned up. He told us he had been reading the HMHB article that appears in Peter Ross's book The Passion Of Harry Bingo. Peter had done much of his interviewing for the article the last time the band played in Holmfirth in March2016.
Geoff invited us in to the venue, to listen to HMHB doing their sound-check. Various bits of tunes were played as they were warming up - such as the melody to Doreen, the bass line of New Dawn Fades, and a bit of what could have been A Man Of Constant Sorrow and Numanoid Hang-glide. And there was one that we thought might be the new song about Bat Walks (it later emerged that the title of this one is Renfield's Afoot). The vocal checking was covered by both Nigel and Neil repeating "one-two", "one-two", "one-two", "one-two". You get the picture. We also heard full versions of Bad Review, Stuck Up A Hornbeam, The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train, Tonight Matthew I'm Going To Be With Jesus, Third Track Main Camera, Four Minutes, and Irk The Purists. Everybody was happy, and so it was time to head for some chips.
As usual we visited Hollowgate Fisheries. I wondered if it is actually time for the words "The Legendary" to precede this fine outlet. Maybe an official decision will have to wait until next time. While partaking by the wall across the road from the shop, we noticed a heron and a grey wagtail going about their business on the river.
Later on, it was back to the venue for the evening. Karen and I, Tony and Andrew were close to the front of the queue, which soon built up the slope towards Huddersfield Road. Plenty of folk were round and about. At various points of the evening I said Hello to Jordan, Emily, Matt, Bob, Sue, Daz, Howie, Katherine, Karl, John, Nigel, Jo, Ian, Mariana, Postman Tony, Graham, The Exfords, Pete, Mike and I caught a glimpse of Chris The Site Owner. Even Ron Seal was there.
People entering the venue are met with a notice. "This is a historic venue. No standing on chairs, or climbing on banisters. Keep your feet on the ground at all times." My bulky frame means that my feet remain on the ground at most times anyway, so not much chance of breaking that rule. I did once shake hands with Captain Sensible here by the way.
Sonnenberg were providing the support tonight. "It's always a great gig at Holmfirth," said Zinny. He's not wrong. This was about as good as I have seen them play. They played as a four piece. I haven't quite memorised all their song titles. But I recognised Into The Light, War No More and Better Together. And Zinny is in the game of shifting units. He reminded everyone that Geoff's stall was open for business, featuring Sonnenberg products. However the stall must have been short handed between the two sets, as Geoff was seen walking across the stage to a chorus of "There's only one Geoff Davies."
Half Man Half Biscuit appeared on stage at 9.00. Nigel immediately introduced Christian Gross to the crowd, and added "You've got a Food And Drink festival. Great." There was general delight with the opening song, God Gave Us Life. As John said to me at the time, "I hope the Rotherham Postie is here tonight." That didn't appear to be the case, judging by the lack of calls of "What did God give us, Neil?" There were some new names appearing in that song. "He also gave us Micky Flanagan. He also gave us Paddy McGuiness. He also gave us Freddie Flintoff. He also gave us Richard Littlejohn. He also gave us James Martin. He also gave us John Challis." But it was all rounded off with "And he also gave us Lionel Blair!"
An early shout for Sealclubbing was met with the standard "Yeah, that's one of ours." Nigel announced "This one's about me," before the band played Restless Legs. Someone shouted that they couldn't hear the vocal. Nigel said to the soundman "It sounds OK on stage, maybe he's just being awkward." Nigel was unable to respond to Tony's shout about there being a world shortage of Brazil nuts.
Shit Arm Bad Tattoo had an alternative ending: "You've got a shit arm, and it's a bad review." Similarly there was a line in Bad Review about the Food And Drink festival.
Nigel recounted the band's trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. They were gasping and they went to the café there. Nigel wondered how hard it is to get a non-drip tea-pot. "Nice place, but take a flask." Later on the band dropped in at Lower Cumberworth. They were at the duck pond. A woman they met was watching the ducks and said "If only they could sing as well as they can quack." That in turn led to an outing for an old joke. "How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? Put it into the microwave until it's bill withers."
Nigel experienced a slight technical issue during The LIght At The End Of The Tunnel. He was merrily strumming away and then realised at the end of the song that the lead had come out of his guitar. There was a very short burst of "Matthew Amroliwala, what were you thinking of?" In response to a mention of Huddersfield Town, Nigel said it didn't seem that long since Tranmere were playing them at the McAlpine Stadium, or even Leeds Road. He likened watching Tranmere these days to the time when John McCarthy was chained to a radiator.
Nigel reported that "I can't be arsed with the occult." He asked "Is there anybody here who is going to the Food And Drink Festival? This is for you," ahead of CAMRA Man. Irk The Purists was originally recorded by The Detroit Idiots. There were shouts for various songs. "I could do all of them," he said before playing a few intros. The band had a go at playing Our Tune, but Nigel couldn't remember all of the words.
He mentioned about his mum moving to Rhyl in the 1980s. She ended up with a job cleaning for Nerys Hughes' mother who also lived there. Nigel didn't have the heart to tell her about the connection.
Paintball's Coming Home contained a few variations. "They say 'It is what it is' and 'Back in the day'" and the verse ended with "They all bang on about gin." Then there was "They've got Marley And Me on their screens" with the final line "People who do that also get wind chimes.".
There was also "They didn't choose their cat. The cat chose them," coupled with "Now it's got it's own Facebook page."
And then there was "They recognise all the players in the England team" finished off with "They love all the trumpets and drums."
The venue provided the opportunity for Nigel to tell us about the guy dying recently who used to be the manager when it was a cinema. His funeral is at three different times of the day. He also told us that Flanagan And Allan sang Underneath The Arches for the first time at Birkenhead Theatre. An old style car horn featured during Footprints. Neil extended the pause in Time Flies By when Nigel says "Let it happen, bass player."
At the Bath gig the week before, Jordan had handed Nigel a small square of bubblewrap. When the band came back for the encore tonight, Nigel returned the compliment by handing Jordan a far bigger bundle of the stuff. There was talk of being addicted to squeezing bubblewrap, but Nigel claimed instead to be addicted to chewy Granola slices from Sainsbury's. After they played I Think We're Alone Now, there was a request "Give us some Carpenters!" Nigel's look in response suggested that he had taken the idea on board. Watch this space.
Karen ended up with a set list. As we have come to expect, there were a number of amendments, particularly in the second half of the show. Never mind. What was played sounded pretty good to me. But please get back in the van soon, Ken.God Gave Us Life
And in the encoreWe Built This Village On A Trad Arr Tune
And so it was back to the bar for consultation of the notes. As usual, I couldn't read my own writing and there were bits that I couldn't hear much of what was said. So thanks to Karen, John, Andrew, Matt and Tony for helping out there. Karen and I were off to Nottingham the night after this, to see Sparks. Great band, , magnificent performance and I was delighted to see them at last, over forty years after first catching them on Top Of The Pops. But they were still merely the second best band that I saw this week.