Sheffield Boardwalk, 16/12/98 (22/12/98)

Chris Stride:

Expectations were more than fulfilled at the best gig I've seen this year. First up a short set by local indie-pop-punkers Velodrome 2000. Highlights were the riotous Go-Go-Velodrome complete with lyric-board reading "Velodrome Suck!", and the concluding number which was one minute of the usual shouty stuff and 4 minutes of Mary-Chain-esque feedback. Is this the start of their new rock direction?!

Half Man Half Biscuit's Four Lads Who Shook The Wirral was undoubtedly the album of 1998 and it was nice to see many of the large (if somewhat elderly!) crowd packing the Boardwalk singing along to some of the newer as well as the old songs. Their set was unusually full of early tracks, starting with a stomping Fred Titmus, followed by the rarely-played The Best Things In Life and continuing through the likes of Time Flies By..., Dukla Prague Away Kit and Trumpton Riots. They also played the intro to Mars Ultras, You'll Never Make The Station; given the hideous resurgence in the popularity of Boy George they should rehabilitate and finally release this ASAP. Of the newer tracks the magnificent A Country Practice got the biggest cheer and a pretty hectic moshpit greeted Secret Gig.

Between the 'proper' songs there were the usual mixture of new-works-in-practice such as I Do Like To Re-Release My B-sides, and a country-style one about holidays in France. We also got a rendition of the King of the Hill theme tune; very appropriate given the subtle dry humour of that series. Other (personal) highlights were Friday Night And The Gates Are Low (they really should do a t-shirt emblazoned with "I can't stand any more cos' I can't stand anymore") and Running Order Squabble Fest, but it was all rather good.

After 75 minutes of top entertainment, and an encore of Transmission and See That My Bike's Kept Clean, that was it. If you weren't there, then make sure you don't miss their next visit to Sheffield, and get along to Offbeat to hear a smattering of their best tracks in the meantime!

Read all this at Offbeat.

The Limelight, Crewe, 3rd December (15/12/98)

Stuart Fairbrother (continues on from Chester review):

THE LIMELIGHT, CREWE 3.12.98 was attended by a much more reserved audience which halfway through the set prompted Nigel to add "This song's a hint" before starting 'Moshpits' the result was a doubling of the number dancing to two. An excellent change of lyric in ACP - "...Mealy Dan routine..." with a nod towards the walls plastered in posters for Tribute bands which the Limelight seems to enjoy promoting. 'Transmission' was dropped for the first time in ages and looks like being replaced with a Crass cover soon. If Nigel can get the accent right.

A crystal clear sound and no moshpit gave a clinical feel to the gig. I prefer my Biscuits murky and threatening.

Duchess of York, Leeds, 27th November (1/12/98)

Gareth from Leeds:

Another top night in the Duchess as HMHB hit town for their 2nd visit of the year. A decent crowd turned up and clocked on but they took a bit of time to get into it fully. Nigel admitted that they didn't have a play list which was confirmed when all four of them congregated at the end of each song to decide what to play next. A couple of lyrical errors which Nigel brushed off like a true pro, but the poor band organisation just added to the whole night.

The crowd appeared to be a good mix of new and old and the songs reflected the audience. They played for a good 80 mins so it was another fiver well spent. The songs they hit us with were:

Fred Titmus                          Time Flies By                    Albert Hammond Bootleg
Trumpton Riots                       The Best Things In Life          Everything's A.O.R
Outbreak of Vitas Gerulaitis         Numanoid Hang-glide              Fretwork Homework
Friday Night and the Gates Are Low   Sponsoring the Moshpits          Paintball's Coming Home
Dead Men Don't Need Season Tickets   See That My Bike's Kept Clean    Four Skinny Indie Kids
Secret Gig                           You're Hard                      Turn A Blind Eye
A Country Practice                   Help Me Rhonda
and probably a couple I've missed off.

Nigel also hit us with a new one to the tune of "I do like to be beside the seaside" which began "I do like to re-release my B sides" (not so new actually - Ed.!) and went on for a few lines which have long since left my memory. A short ditty of "Kenny old Irons, Kenny old Irons" along with "I am the Roy Walker of Rock, I say what I see" kept us amused between songs. Plenty of band/audience participation and the place was rocking big time by the end. Top night, cheers fellas, see you next year.

Duchess of York, Leeds, 27th November (2/12/98)

Martin Bryant:

Quite a lot of people appeared to have travelled over from Merseyside for this gig, and they spent the whole night shouting "What did god give us?". Nigel replied "Well he didn't give us a set list, that's for sure". Yes, there was no set list, they just made it up as they went along. Being quite a 'new fan' I wasn't familiar with everything, although 'Paintball's Coming Home' is still funny and 'A Country Practice' is better than ever (even if Nigel forgot the words half way through), with bits of feedback being thrown in there from Ken. Unfortunately 'Turn A Blind Eye' sounded a bit half-arsed, but then it's not the sort of song that works live...

There wasn't much of a mosh-pit until the encore of 'Secret Gig' and 'Trumpton Riots' when the crowd went mad, bless 'em. Had no money to spend on merchandising, but if I had I would have bought the entire back catalogue...

Mean Fiddler, Harlesden, London, 6th November (7/11/98)

"I'm the Roy Walker of rock, I say what I see."

A storming gig, they seemed to play forever. I said I'd write a review, but I spent far too much time taking all the photos (check 'em out). No-one else seems too bothered, so I won't either.

Telford's Warehouse, Chester, 30th October (15/12/98)

Stuart Fairbrother:

Always a packed house when the band come to Telford's Warehouse and this evening was no different. With it's low ceiling, claustrophobic standing area and impressive array of alcoholic beverages it made for a raucous affair.

An extremely rowdy moshpit leading to Nigel's and Neil's mic. stands constantly being knocked over and broken glass on stage, Ken having to tell folk to, "Calm down. Someone could get hurt". Am I that unfit or did A Country Practice last for half an hour?

Northampton, Tue 13th October (3) (19/10/98)

Rob Stringer with a different opinion:

It appears Nigel Scott was either one of those sad die-hard HMHB fans or he was in attendance at another gig on 13/10.

Yes, The Racehorse was a bit of a crap venue, granted. The room was filled with a crowd of beer-bellied thirty-somethings, clad in full river island regalia. The support band Fat Controller did have a "strange" format but good grooves accompanied by Iggy-style trash sound overcame the dodgy PA to provide about five out the over-priced six pounds worth of entrance fee. This band are a must to see in a quality venue.

The fun stopped here though, I bought Back In The D.H.S.S. and saw the funny side, but that was nearly fifteen years ago, HMHB opened with the relative classic Fred Titmus then bored us shitless with an hour's worth of dirge. This is 1998, it is no longer cool to be crap - music must move on.

Give me back my six quid...

Northampton, Tue 13th October (2) (15/10/98)

Nigel Scott:

As it said on the gig guide, The Racehorse is not the greatest venue in Northampton, but it was plenty big enough to accommodate the hundred or so souls who'd managed to hear about a gig that (to my knowledge) was given no local publicity. It also had a weird lighting set-up that threw much more light on the moshpit than on the actual stage, but maybe that was deliberate (what do I know?)

The local support band, Fat Controller, suffered from a "mushy" sound for the first couple of songs but it soon became apparent that their music is best heard in that way. The nadir was reached at the end of the set with a quite spectacularly awful rendition of Motorhead's Stay Clean. Still, the band's friends seemed to enjoy it.

HMHB took to the stage and launched into Fred Titmus which had the added attraction that it saved us from having to listen to people shouting out the title for the rest of the gig. The rest of the set-list was a mix of the very old and the new album with very little from the "middle period". As far as I can recall, they played (not in this order):

Fred Titmus                           Time Flies By
The Trumpton Riots                    Albert Hammond Bootleg
Dukla Prague Away Kit                 The Best Things In Life
Vitas Gerulaitis                      Yipps
Everything's AOR                      Running Order Squabble Fest
Dead Men Don't Need Season Tickets    Paintball's Coming Home
Tonight Matthew...                    4 Skinny Indie Kids
On Reaching The Wensum                A Country Practice
Secret Gig                            Help Me Rhonda
I may have missed out some although they were on stage for approx 75 mins and I've listed 18 so can't be many! As you can see, absolutely nothing from Godcore and just the one from This Leaden Pall.

The highlight was definitely A Country Practice which better every time I hear it and it's sad that the song will never reach the size of audience that it ought to. Pity they didn't play Two Chevrons from a local point of view but it was nice to be home ten minutes after the end of the gig after some of the distances I've travelled in the past.

Geoff seemed to do a good trade in cd's and shirts (he got £23 from me!) and when I saw him putting his jacket on during Time Flies By it was a bit of a giveaway that the encore was coming to an end.

Northampton, Tue 13th October (1) (14/10/98)

David Amott:

It's always a bit ominous when you first walk into a venue and there are tables and chairs around the outside, not exactly conducive to developing a good atmosphere.

There was about a couple of hundred in attendance in a pretty small venue. First up were a local band, Fat Controller who were a four piece without a drummer using a backing tape. Strange? They played a fast and heavy set which didn't really hit the mark with the HMHB fans. Even the singer said Yeah, yeah we know you're all here to see HMHB after a stony silence greeted the end of a song. They will probably get a reasonable following from the local thrash/punk fans.

HMHB performed a wide selection of new and old. From The Best Things In Life through to Four Skinny Indie Kids and plenty in between. A couple of cover versions including an excellent rendition of the Joy Division classic Transmission in the encore.

After a quiet start the crowd got into some serious bouncing around, so the initial doubts about the venue were unfounded. Everybody got well into it apart from a few hard to pleases locals who sat or talked all the way through, including the six or seven who I SEEMED TO BE STUCK BEHIND wherever I moved to.

All in all another fine performance and prearing for a trip down to the Mean Fiddler in December.

Norwich, Mon 12th October (13/10/98)

Neil Langley:

HMHB played last night at Fat Paulys, Edward St, Norwich which is for those of you who haven't been there a strange little dingehole, complete with low ceilings, but ideal for gigs. They were supported by two other bands Universal Love Train and Ouija which I missed due to the incompetence of Eastern Counties buses. I also missed the first 20 mins of HMHB, but when I finally arrived the place was reasonably busy with a sizeable crowd, mainly a mixture of indie kids down the front and those who remembered the band from Trunpton Riots era, but didnt know any of the recent stuff. When I arrived they were playing Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis but they seemed to be experiencing sound problems which got better as the gig got better. In the first 20 mins which I missed they played Four Skinny Indie Kids but I couldn't find out the others. They then went on to play:

The Best Things In Life      You're Hard     On Reaching The Wensum
Secret Gig                   4AD3DCD         Bad Review
Paintball's Coming Home      Running Order Squabble Fest - 
which apparently Nigel said was a tribute to the Thetford Rock'n'Roll Extravaganza - sending two blokes in front of me in fits of laughter- does Nigel have Norfolk connections apart from his liking of the A47?
Time Flies By which got a good reception, along with the other mid 80s songs, the crowd had been calling for it all night!
A Country Practice went down well despite the guitarist's problems at the start of the song, at one occasion he pretended to walk offstage after Nigel told him to, "get on with it", but jokingly walked back to carry on playing. Nigel had a little laugh as well about the problems. During the song someone shouted at, "Don't be so bitter" to Nigel which met with a smirk.
Help Me Rhonda quite a surprise cover version which went down well with the crowd, Nigel was talking about Welsh Goth beforehand and going to Chester Safari Park? who charge per car, not per person and as no one in his family talks too each other they have to go in three cars, therefore more expensive. Following this song, someone shouted out "you sound like the Levellers"??!!

So off the band trundled to the cries of "WE WANT MORE", and on they came to one of the best ENCORES i've seen in ages. They played All I Want For Xmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit which was constantly being called for in the crowd, as "£3.10" or "SUBBUTEO". And a superb rendition of Joy Division's Transmission, absolutely brilliant, to send the moshers moshing, and finally The Trumpton Riots which everyone sang along to.

A brilliant night had by all, much better than the Festival Hall appearance which was good, but this time you were nearer, the songs were louder and Nigel spoke between songs. I await the MEAN FIDDLER gig next month!!

Something I forgot : they played a quick 30 second version of the Match Of The Day theme while tuning up and the crowd outside Fat Pauly's after the gig were raving on about them . Its nice to hear enthusiasm from the Norwich folk. HMHB rocked Norwich and the crowd was very lively!!

Krazy House, Liverpool (2), Wed 7th October (13/10/98)

Ad Kite says:

"Buzzin gig there la', worth bunkin' off work in London for the week so I could meet up with all the other wood worms. Bit like the annual 'Hawkwind' gigs; all the faces you expected to see and thousands you wish you hadn't. Turned Up... is the nearest TRFC will ever get to an anthem. Pissed on the Festival Hall gig. Skin up ye bastards."

Krazy House, Liverpool (1), Wed 7th October (8/10/98)

Russ Reid sends a "non-review":

"I enjoyed the gig last night, but I don't think I could quite write a review of it. There were quite a lot of old songs, like Albert Hammond Bootleg, Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus, Trumpton Riots, Time Flies By, The Best Things In Life, and Venus In Flares. Nigel had a lot of problems with his guitar, but it all went down well. It was spoiled somewhat for me by three dickheads standing next to me who just sneered throughout and I don't think they clapped at all. The last encore was the one that cracked me up, where he was going on about Maincrest Car & Van Hire, which refers to a very old advert on local radio which was extremely irritating. Maybe the best thing was that they finished deliberately by 11.30, so the Wirral fans could get the last train home!

Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, Fri 10th July (12/7/98)

Andy Martin, pt 2:

So to Oxford we go, taking in Carterton, some village-on-the-water that was popular with Americans, Aston Upthorpe (or something) and other places that could only be reached by a single track road - much to the delight of seasoned traveller Geoff Davies (the man who can at times put the able in miserable.)

The Bullingdon Arms again - well run, despite the lack of a dressing room still. First up was some dreaful support band who did a soundcheck full of cover versions and then took to the stage wearing eye make-up. Sigh. Even worse, they'd paid some girl to stand in the crowd and dance like the bird from the titles of Tales Of The Unexpected. All their set lacked was a cover of Love Cats - they had the crap eyeliner and pseudo-ego to match it.

So it was somewhat of a blessing to see the Biscuits kick their set off with Trumpton Riots, and an even bigger blessing to see Alan present. He, of course, set about his job from the off but like me quickly realised that people who go to gigs in Oxford need paying to enjoy themselves. At least in Cheltenham they got into the swing of things with a bit of pushing, in Oxford they just stood there with gormless looks on their faces. And before some smart-alec blames HMHB, I should point out that it was these vertically dead people who screamed for an encore at the end. A Country Practice went down a treat - it's nearly surpassing Paintball's... in the crowd pleasing charts. The sound man did screw up on occasion, and Geoff Davies became Mr Stage-Lights. The biggest surprise of the night was a solitary "yes!" when Nigel asked if there was anyone from Aston Upthorpe in the building. It turned out to be some "groupie" for the support band who'd developed a thing for Alan after seeing him in action. She also told me that she's designed car showroom buildings for Nexus. So I'll be sure to look out for them around the country. No, really....

Of both nights, Cheltenham was by far the best in crowd terms - both were well attended, but the Oxford lot were very very reserved. The sets comprised young and old songs, including Time Flies By, All I Want... Everything's AOR, You're Hard, Four Skinny Indie Kids, 4AD3DCD, (My Baby Got) The Yipps and on both occasions The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman. Very tight, very crisp, very well attended. Roll on Manchester, Wednesday 29th.

Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, Fri 10th July (12/7/98)


After the goth-tinged Spectre had suitably unimpressed us all, HMHB couldn't fail to deliver a sparkling set, and sure enough, no-one was disappointed. The Jaap Stam of pop delivered a set altogether more solid at the back than his Dutch doppelganger, and showed far more flair in pushing forward and catching the audience on the break.

The current set is pretty much established now - opening with Trumpton Riots, and slipping in Dukla Prague to keep the retro fans happy, interspersed with the usual tracks from the new LP and a couple of Fall intros to appease some sad bastard who runs a website. Good to hear Split Single With Happy Lounge Labelmates given the full band treatment, after Nigel's solo versions earlier in the year. The Wreck of the '97 (correct title?) made another appearance mid-set, and by the set closing Everything's AOR, the crowd were baying for more. Which they duly got, the encore closing with the ever-present Faithlift.

A top night for all, and a top night on the merchandise stall too, with punter happy to pick up a few new arrivals - the "Wirral" t-shirt, re-pressings of the videos (or whatever you do to videos), and the long-awaited HMHB lyric book, covering every song up to Voyage To The Bottom Of The Road. Perhaps I'll get 'em up here one day...

Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, Fri 10th July (12/7/98)

David Arnott is first in:

Just got home from the Bully and HMHB have completed an excellent gig. A very good set covering all the great favourites which was well received by the crowd. I took my mate who had never heard of HMHB until a couple of weeks ago and after tonight he is gagging to see them again. Come back again soon!

Axiom Centre, Cheltenham, Thu 9th July (16/7/98)

Andy Martin, Pt 1:

The Axiom Arts Centre in Cheltenham. Apparently there's some kind of an exhibition room upstairs, but us common gig folk wouldn't know that. So to the back room we're ushered, some of us crusty old die-hards, some of us attractive young bucks (girls) who have a penchant for ex-pat Tranmere supporters.

With no support to slow proceedings down, the night ran very smoothly from the moment the troops took to the stage. The set has become a quality mix of old and new - and it still pisses me off to see people who are under the impression that Voyage... was a comeback album. Standing at the back for the first couple of numbers, I noticed that the crowd at the front would need some persuading to actually enjoy themselves. So, during a rousing Running Order Squabble Fest, I pushed my way through the masses and took my place at the stage, front and centre. The sound was quality, no feedback problems and a decent lighting set-up - all it needed was me to remember the skills of Alan and get a moshpit going. So when the first few bars of Trumpton Riots kicked in I was away and, thankfully, so were abut 30 others. This continued for the rest of the gig - even during A Country Practice, Faithlift and other songs the crowd didn't know existed. The Wreck Of The Old '97 made an appearance again, as did a bright spark in the crowd who tried and failed to catch Nigel out with references to The Carter Family and some book or other.

Afterwards there were lots of new t-shirts and new albums sold and even more glowing spoken reviews by punters leaving the place. The band sloped off to a trailer park motel on the outskirts of the posh hamlet that is Cheltenham to prepare for the following night - Oxford.

Royal Festival Hall, London, Sun 5th July (update 23/10/98)

A 45 minute set of short, sharp tunes, all from the 90's, and closing with a redition of The Wreck of the '97 (correct title?), the old country standard which Johnny Cash popularised. Peely was suitably impressed by this...

Neil Langley also informs me: "[During the set] I noticed sitting in front of me none other than Mick Jones of the Clash, cracking up at some of the HMHB songs, he must have enjoyed HMHB more than Blur/Silver Apples cos he left halfway through their set.

Fair & Firkin, Nottingham (21/5/98)

This gig has been cancelled - something to do with problems with the PA at the venue.

Duchess of York, Leeds, 22nd May (20/2/99>

Not the smoothest-running gig, with Nigel having to borrow an amp from the support band (Privilege). All your usual favourites, including a spoken-word version of Turn A Blind Eye, an abortive attempt at the World Cup song, and the first bit of Children of Apocalyptic Techstep used as an intro to Yipps. The full running order was:
Fred Titmus              PRS Yearbook               4AD3DCD
You're Hard              Paintball's Coming Home    Tonight Matthew...
Turn A Blind Eye         Vitas Gerulaitis           Four Skinny Indie Kids
Malayan Jelutong         Bad Review                 Trumpton Riots
A Country Practice       Deep House Victim's...     Running Order Squabble Fest
Yipps                    Secret Gig                 Monmore Hare's Running
Dukla Prague Away Kit    Faithlift                  Everything's AOR
See That My Bike's Kept Clean

The Boardwalk, Sheffield, 15th May (17/5/98)


See the photos of the gig...

A particularly good gig, this - no support band, so HMHB got to play for the best part of an hour and a half, to a crowd far more receptive than many I've seen at a few of the recent 'southern' gigs. Nigel and Ken both got into the rock'n'roll spirit, rolling around on the floor (and knocking guitar leads out...).

The set was much the same as other recent gigs, mixing the old and the new, and also including Nigel's version of the World Cup song - "There's Groups A and B,....C, D, E, F, and H....with the top two in each going through to Round 2" - or something vaguely like that. It was A Country Practice that once again stole the show for me, this really is their best song ever; their longest too, but it got a huge cheer at the end.

Not much of a review, that, but there's no point in repeating what I've already written know they're great, so get yer arses along to the next gig and sing along!

Star & Garter, Manchester, 24th April (19/5/98)

Better late than never, eh? Me, with the set list:
The Trumpton Riots             PRS Yearbook - Quick, The Drawbridge     See That My Bike's Kept Clean
Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus  Malayan Jelutong                         Deep House Victims' Minibus Appeal
Bad Review                     Secret Gig                               Venus In Flares
A Country Practice             Running Order Squabble Fest              You're Hard
"King Of The Hill" theme       4AD3DCD                                  Yipps (My Baby Got The)
Four Skinny Indie Kids         Keeping Two Chevrons Apart               Paintball's Coming Home
Everything's AOR               "Johnny Cash Sings Crass"                Monmore Hare's Running
A few other snippets cropped up between songs - a stanza from Bonnie Tyler's A Total Eclipse of the Heart, and I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside reworked as I Do Like to Re-release my B-sides...

Star & Garter, Manchester, 24th April (26/4/98)

Daniel Benwhethers:

Having only heard recent Half Man Half Biscuit material on Peel, I was a little wary of seeing them live for the first time. My only memories, like many others I suppose, were of the days of Back In The DHSS. So I arrive at the Star & Garter, a small rough-looking pub on the outskirts of Manchester City Centre and in the middle of a place frequented by prostitutes. Inside the place it's a completely different story - nothing but friendly faces and an excellent atmosphere. It seemed everyone was expecting to be thoroughly entertained. I was just glad I'd bought my ticket in advance, having witnessed the flood of people trying to pay at the door being told to wait. It was obvious the gig had completely sold out to a multitude of people, be they old, young, male or female.

The support acts only did about half an hour each. It may have been longer, but nobody would have noticed on account of them both being nothing short of mediocre. Tiny were just plain old Oasis-by-numbers, with no discernible lyrics and songs that all sounded the same. The Bleenees were next, and it was clear that they just wanted to be Half Man Half Biscuit. They had a keyboard as well, although you wouldn't have known it. To be fair to both of them, they were nothing more than token support bands with egos that overshadowed any kind of talent. Still, that wasn't why we were here, so when HMHB took to the stage, the place lifted, the dancefloor filled and the band made everyone happy by kicking off with Trumpton Riots. And a riot it was from beginning to end. A moshpit formed immediately, occasionally knocking the microphone over during the more upbeat songs. I'm ashamed to say I only knew a few of the songs they played, like Paintball's Coming Home, Secret Gig, You're Hard and Four Skinny Indie Kids, but almost all the crowd sang along with every song word for word. There were two new songs that nobody new however, namely Keeping Two Sefton's Apart (I think) and one called Country Practice, which of the two went down an absolute storm. There was an encore following a huge request for one from the crowd, after which the place almost completely emptied - probably due to it being filled to capacity and very, very hot. But everyone was happy with an excellent performance coupled with a quality sound system. The venue just needed to be bigger, but that's a lesson for the next gig they do up here.

The Half Time Orange, Leicester, 22nd April (23/4/98)


Just back from the Leicester triple header - an excellent night all round. The Half Time Orange is a cavernous venue, replete with multiple screens which were showing the England match during the soundchecks, but relayed the stage itself during the gig. The stage would have been plenty big enough for Chumbawamba with a guest appearance from Madness, a two tier effect which made photos of the drummers pretty much impossible without a big telephoto lens. As a result of the size, the place was a bit sparsely populated, and the sound was a bit echoey, but ne'er mind. As I turned up early, I managed to get to know the venue's soundman, and bribed him (literally - had to give him ten quid!) to do a mixing desk recording of the bands. He didn't do too well - he completely missed HMHB, but did manage to capture most of Ludd Gang and the whole of the I Ludicrous set.

Ludd Gang are a Fall tribute band, featuring Tim from Prolapse on drums and a few others local pop celebrities along the way. Their set focussed mainly on the early to mid-80's Fall, as have their previous gigs; this time it was:

Mansion      Bombast         Draygo's Guilt      Kicker Conspiracy
2 by 4       My New House    Leave The Capitol
and very good they were too, quite a few impressed souls in the audience (can't really call it a crowd, there was too much room). One or two of the tracks from the gig will feature on an upcoming Fall covers tape; mail me if you want further details.

As usual, I did my digital David Bailey best, and photos of Ludd Gang (and the venue) can be found here.

Most people probably thought I, Ludicrous were long gone, but no, they were just resting. Their set consisted mainly of old favourites, with one or two newies thrown in for good measure:

Oh Really        When I Worked At Textline       Approaching 40   Hackey's Wine Bar
Richard Madeley  Three English Football Grounds  Spock's Brain    Preposterous Tales
Man's Man        We Stand Around
Approaching 40 (if that's what it's called) was introduced as 'A song about Mark E Smith'. Three English Footy Grounds has NOT being updated, so it should really be re-christened "One English Football Ground" with Burnden Park and The (old) Den being no more. Don't reckon you'd get in for six quid either, and there's certainly no beer...

Comedy moment of the night was John playing keyboard whilst sitting on the edge of the upper tier of the stage, and singing into a microphone which was level with his waist. Yer best bit would be to see the photos I took.

Last up, it's HMHB. They initially concentrated on older (i.e. released) material for the first half of their set, starting off with The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman and knocking out a fair few from the last LP. Malayan Jelutong got a rare outing at some point (multiple pints of Tiger by this point, coupled with a lack of a tape mean I've got no idea on the setlist).

The newer songs appeared later, with Secret Gig, Four Skinny Indie Kids and Keeping Two Chevrons Apart being aired before Ken's amp decided to blow, which buggered up the set a bit. Nigel knocked out I Left My Barbour At Twickenham Car Park while the rest of the band tried to resurrect the sound. Best song of all though was A Country Practice, an epic tribute to/tirade against daytime TV with the "T for Toxteth, T for Tennessee" finale.

So off they troop at 11pm, returning for a short encore of Everything's AOR before being given their marching orders by the management. A top night, good to meet up with a number of readers/contributers to this site, and good to see that Alan Barnsley is still in good form with the most laid back stage invasion ever - see the photos and you'll see what I mean.

Finally, a big thank you and well done to Ian for arranging the whole thing so excellently - it was an excellent night, and also ta to Ludd Gang guitarist's girlfriend for giving me a lift back to me B&B.

Fibbers, York, 17th April (24/4/98)

Pete Fenelon pops up with the goods:

"As usual, a packed house at Fibbers. First support band were crap, I don't remember their name -- I turned up in the middle of their set to find a friend lurking around outside complaining about them (hello Arthur!)

Percy, the second lot, sound rather like Fall-wannabes to me, but that's no bad thing. Some of the songs (Beast of Bramley in particular) are very good, but they don't look relaxed yet. They have a good demo tape out -- worth a listen.

The HMHB set concentrated on new material -- mostly from Voyage... or new songs, but with a few old showstoppers. Nigel was semi-acoustic (!!!) and nodded vaguely in the direction of out and out C&W at times whilst messing around... There was slightly less between-songs weirdness than usual, but a phenomenally tight set. The newer songs are developing nicely (things that were still pretty fragmentary at the last Duchess of York gig have definitely evolved and on the basis of Peel sessions and live performances the next album should be well up there... Oh, and the PA was pretty decent -- looks like they've got the hang of Fibbers at last.

Good crowd, perhaps not quite as frenzied as some I've seen but clearly well into what was going on.

Geoff still had a few lighters, for those that need them!"

The Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, 4th April (1) (6/4/98)


So, the first major gig for the Bullingdon Arms since the refit from a non-Oxford band, a major success all round. Main man Mike at the venue told me that he got quite a few enquiries resulting from the plug on this page, so ta all round from me to those who made the effort. Looks like a return gig in the future is not out of the question.

So, the bands. First band up, Starsky, a three-piece playing a Buffalo Tom-inspired form of power pop. I thought they were great, but unfortunately the combination of an early start and that bizarre Oxford malaise, the 'front-of-stage semicircular no-go zone' led to a less than enthusiastic reception. As usual, it was fairly crammed at the back, though. Made it easier for me to get a few snaps, though, which you can find on my Gig Photo Site.

Second up, it's Katsuit Karate. They had the outfits, they had the backdrop, but did they have the tunes? Their take on blues-rock is probably more what the regular Bullingdon punters are used to (judging by the 'fans' (read 'mates') who were dancing by the end, but it didn't do much for me. The covers that finished the set (including an unrequested encore!) being especially annoying. See what you reckon, there's a pic and a sound sample via the Gig Photo Site.

And so to the Biscuits. Due to their late arrival, we first of all had the comedy of the kit being brought in through the fire escape after Katsuit Karate had exited. After setting up, Nigel then realised that there was no set list, so they had to make it up as they went along. It didn't seem to matter, though, as the boys still knocked out a storming set, from the opening Fred Titmus with obligatory crowd participation, through the new songs Four Skinny Indie Kids, Secret Gig, Charlie Goth, You're Hard and T for Toxteth, to old favourites Dukla Prague and the final Everything's AOR. All this despite the lead constantly falling out of Nigel's acoustic guitar.

So, a top gig, lots of jumping around from the regulars, and even Katsuit Bassist, who suddenly leapt up several storeys in my estimation (!). And I still managed to take a mountain of photos of the event, which can be found here. The photographic evidence that Alan Barnsley only has one had and that Andy M only has one shirt (albeit a Dukla Prague one) is mounting up...

Hope the rest of you enjoyed it!

The Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, 4th April (2) (6/4/98)

Andy Martin:

The Bullingdon Arms - a venue once reknowned for being 'full of junkies and fighting Irish' according to a doorman. Nowadays it's a very well turned out venue run very professionally, but quite obviously unprepared for the HMHB invasion - although it coped better than Redditch.

Due to the absence of any real stage door as it were, the band were forced to wait until the second support band had finished their heavily laboured set. It has to be said that, of the two supports, the first (Starsky) were far better received than the next lot who's name I've forgotten (they were that good.) What I do remember is a a massive 4 people (that's FOUR people) attempting to do something called 'dance' and looking plainly like friends of the band. There was also a bloke playing the bongos and a fella with a saxaphone who really wanted to look like the bloke out of Madness. The bass player was a decent bloke and a big Biscuits fan, it was just a shame that nobody liked his band. Geoff Davies (man of mystery) summed them up perfectly during their woeful cover of 'Passenger' when he turned to me and said "it's enough to make Iggy pop."

So, after much ruuning about and setting up, I coaxed Nigel from his in-van interview with someone-or-other and the Biscuits took to the stage, realising in the process that there wasn't a set-list. This mattered not, with proceedings kicking off with Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus much to the delight of a crammed venue. Sound was superb, especially after the Redditch debacle, although there were occasional problems with a guitar lead. T for Toxteth got a play (along with others I think - it was all. So. New.)

Decent sound, solid performance and even the pissed up bird sat on the stage for the first 20 minutes shouting 'bollocks' and 'you're shit' managed to shut her gob when me, Wood, Alan and some strangers all sang Paintball's Coming Home at her. Later on she was dancing around in a vain attempt to get in on a lively moshpit. She was ignored.

Merchandising update: "it's real people with real money" (Geoff) Alan update: he spoke to Ken Hancock at the end - "alright mate, what do you play again? Oh yeah, guitar. Yeah, you're fuckin' great you are with your effects pedal and all that. What's your name again?"

To sum it up: 'Hooray' for Oxford. 'Hooray' for the boy Wood and Alan for getting the the moshpit going. 'Hooray' for people who bought lots of stuff. 'Why?' to the support bands who asked for "freebie merchandise" and 'does anybody care?' to (yet again) the Leceister's for asking me 'when the 100% record started' at the end. I think they want everyone to know they've been to more HMHB gigs then me. And Gerard. And Alan. And the band."

The Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, 4th April (3) (6/4/98)

Alan Phair:

"It's been at least ten years since I've seen HMHB and a gig an hour away in Oxford was too good an opportunity to miss."

The nice friendly doorman charged me £7.50 (what happened to the £6 entrance fee?) and I arrived in time to see the final three songs from Katsuit Karate. At least two of these were covers - Iggy's 'The Passenger' and what sounded like The Gun Club's 'Walk Through the Jungle', I think. They were a sweet, young-ish "college band" and their assorted girlfriends and hangers-on did what students do up at the front.

I was amazed that the Biccies were going to play in the back room of a pub. Albeit a big back room. Those assembled fell into several categories. The diehards at the front, complete with THAT away kit. The curious (four skinny) indie kids at the sides and the old buggers like myself in the middle, owner of all the albums but with a less than perfect knowledge of every single lyric. Oh yes. And then there were the knobheads who kept shouting out stuff like "What did God give us Neil?". Life stopped at Back in the DHSS. The band are by far the ugliest in the world, excepting Twisted Sister of course. Nigel is at once as intense and maniacal as anybody I've ever seen. But the sound was, well, sound, and the fact that I was three metres away from what is, for me, the second best band in the world was something of a dream and a privilege.

'Fred Titmus' got the ball rolling but the jiggers at the front only began to loosen their limbs halfway through a set which appeared tombe made up as they went along owing to no set-list. Nigel even muttered some Johnny Cash ditty as he searched his head for a next song to do.

A completely new one got an airing ('T for Toxteth', I reckon - Gez). I can remember Elton Welsby getting a mention along with "Everyday's Australia Day/ Sons & Daughters and Home & Away". The song went down really well.

Highlights for me were 'Vitus Gerulaitis' and the final song 'Everything's AOR' showing that the McIntyre album represents the band's current peak. The only complaint was that an hour and a quarter is way too short for this band who could play twice that long with every song a classic.

A quick natter with Geoff whom I hadn't seen since Probe days and back to Hemel. A win for Bishop's Stortford and HMHB in Oxford. The dream double was complete.

Redditch Utd FC, 14th March (15/3/98)

Andy Martin keeps up his 100% record:

Redditch United/Town Football Club, or whatever the patrons of Redditch decide to call it, is situated in what Brummies dub 'the posh end of Birmingham' and I'm inclined to agree. Having driven round this Midlands hamlet armed only with some terrible directions, having asked Birmingham answer to Brookside's 'Bing' Crosby the way and having witnessed no solid evidence of anything council-owned we finally arrived at a well kept, if badly signposted, amateur football club ground. Even the DSS offices look posh in Redditch.

This review will be limited, on account of a PA system that it was plain to hear wasn't prepared for Half Man Half Biscuit. For those of us down at the front (once the strange mix of kids sat on the floor had sloped off) the sound was good, if a little spoilt by occasional feedback problems. Those at the back were crying out for some cleverly placed speakers to give the set a kick, but it wasn't to happen and even promoter-bloke Stuart was getting cheesed off with it.

The crowd was big and replete with both junior and senior mohican-wearers, some obvious surf fans (in the Midlands?) and one girl, obviously pissed, who took her shoes off to dance and then seemed to forget about them. She then walked around crying, seemingly oblivious to the broken glass on which her bare feet did tread. Funnily enough, I noticed this during 'Paintball's Coming Home' - do you see?

The band made the best of a bad PA (Ken commented afterwards that it just rattled through the monitors) and Nigel, having noticed the support bands' 'witty' statements between songs, constantly drifted into some superb pre-song solos featuring the likes of Elton Welsby in costume and Blue Labour in power. Moody Chops appeared, as did 4AD3DCD, Secret Gig and a new song about an old woman dying with her telly on (the last thing she saw was Sting in concert on the roof of the Barbican.)

Highlights; the support band, who's name is Mud (or something) changing into their stage clobber (baggy shorts) before they went on. One member asked Nigel what he did for a living and Nigel told him he was a producer on Dwarf Porn videos and would one day take over the family business. The boy just said "oh, right" in a midlands twang and finished getting changed. The rest of us tried not to laugh. Later on the drummer (Alun with a U) stood in the lavish directors box and tried pissing on the pitch. He failed, but was only too eager to tell me about one of his many birds in Glasgow when his pretend missus wasn't with us.

Lowlights; Geoff Davies' worst ever merchandise night resulting in a terribly bad mood - "the tight fisted midlands twats."

Alan from Barnsley update: no beer on the stage, no dancing on the stage and no recollection of the Crewe gig. He was only to pleased to take the piss out of me for the cup result though. Sod.

Until Oxford...

Redditch Utd FC, 14th March (2) (18/3/98)

John Roberts 'sort of' reviews:

"Finally made it to a HMHB gig - first since Leicester which is poor I know - and you're not there. And now I find out that you're a Northampton fan! I'm trying to resist the temptation to mention our thrashing you at Filbo but it is hard. Yeh, Crystal Palace, I know.

The band who supported at Redditch used to be called Identity who released stuff on Damaged Goods circ 1990. I know cos I used to work in Redditch at a record shop and had to put up with them hanging around the shop all the time."

The Limelight, Crewe, 20th February (22/2/98)

Andy Martin, with annoying asides added by me:

Hey you the Rock Steady Crewe, or at least it seemed that way judging by the Cheshire Rockers present in number at the Limelight. Don't be put off by this though, or the fact that nobody bothered to tell anyone that the place is members only, the Limelight is a very well organised and well kept venue.

The band room itself is off limits until a green light appears near to one of the many televisions that show what's happening in the place before it opens. So, after spending a good half hour watching a soundcheck being done with the mute button on, the public are shown into the basement, replete with a small bar and decent viewing area.

The support band were nothing to write home about, having been put on at the last minute. Very 'I can't believe it's not Supergrass' on the whole, and there was a drum solo at the end which really did come close to ruining some people's evenings.

Still, Half Man Half Biscuit saved the day with a very solid, tight performance that Alan 'Bez' Barnsley missed most of after one-too-many Lucozades. He also chose to get escorted from the stage by the staff AFTER the film had run out on my camera. Bastard.

The moshpit was occupied in total by the man Wood, 'Konrad', 'Jesus' and 'me'. Alan tried but failed. The set got a switch-around and an exceptional mix of old and new was on offer. It was a slow build up as far as the audience were concerned, but after getting them going with 'Four Skinny Indie Kids', 'Tonight Matthew' and 'Friday Night...' amongst others, the place was bouncing by the time 'Paintball' made it's appearance. 'Secret Gig' sounded better than I've ever heard it before, especially the middle bit that I think is based on that 'Clap Clap' one by The Belle Stars (probably wrong, but at least I tried) ("The Clapping Song" by Shirley Ellis, in fact, covered by the Belle Stars - pedantic Gez).

As for newbies, only 'Keeping Two Chevrons Apart' comes to mind, if you don't count the Peel Session stuff. 'Moody Chops' was nowhere to be seen, nor any of the others Geoff may have mentioned 'in passing'.

Of the older stuff, 'All I Want...' appeared again, but most surprisingly of all, was 'Time Flies By' during the encore (not the "Spectre Vs. Rector" intro, then? - Gez). Substituting 'Transmission' no doubt, but still marvellous.

So, a good old show at a decent venue with, after some persuading, a very good crowd (there were even screaming girl fans. My God). Redditch is next isn't it? Or at least that's what the Redditch promoter kept saying in his role as 'advanced ticket tout'. There were also two blokes from Leicester who tried 'putting me straight on a few points about Layer Terms' or something, to which I introduced them to Gerard Wood and left. My exceptional laminated A3 album/12" pictures never went on sale either (news to follow if you're interested) (er, not to follow actually, they've been withdrawn - Gez) but at least the few reprinted lighters were popular."