Southwick, 26th Feb 1999 (28/2/99)

Andy Martin, again with tales from the T-shirt stall:

This gig very nearly didn't happen thanks to the marvellous cooking by the staff of a St Alban's eatery whose delicious food the night before made Ken Hancock extremely ill the following day. Even when the decision was made to travel to Brighton, it was only done on the 50/50 chance that Ken would feel well enough to play. So heartfelt thanks go to the staff who prepared his meal for their obvious understanding of the health and safety regulations.

So it was very fortunate that HMHB actually played to 300 people at the windswept Southwick Village Hall, which had Hebden-like understaffing behind the bar, and a ban on smoking in the hall coupled with a ban on drinking tea in anywhere but the canteen. Support came from Attila the Stockbroker's band (Barnstormer), replete with violin and recorder solos, all it really needed to cap it off was a miniature model of Stonehenge lowering onto the vast stage for a couple of dwarves to dance around. Can I also add at this point that the Southwick chippy is, in the words of Neil Crossley after we'd waited twenty minutes for a simple order to be fashioned together, "a travesty."

The set for this audience concentrated more on newer material, although old favourites did put in an appearance. Albert Hammond Bootleg went down well, especially when it segued into ...Yipps. And Everything's AOR got a play during this particular set. A new solo piece referring to Golf Clubs offering "special deals" during winter months brought a big round of applause as well, but Geoff Davies hit the nail on the head during Turn A Blind Eye when he observed that the place was "probably full of Bungee Jumpers anyway." The moshpit was confined to friends of Attila for the most part, and two blokes who insisted on occupying the stage whenever they could in order to wave at their friends in the crowd. Both wore matching blue shirts (buttoned all the way up to the top) and one carped on after the gig about how this was his "manor" and how he should therefore get a discount on HMHB's "third" album "Four Blokes Who Thing The Thing" - he was unsuccessful. Another fella asked me if there was a "best of..." album and countless said "I'll give you a tenner" when they asked for prices of t-shirts/albums. It was that kind of a night.

Overall the venue was a let down for the paying fan who likes to smoke fags and drink beer. The sound was also a bit suspect for a place that came about thanks to a £600,000+ lottery grant - with Attila making a reference to the microphone being so badly wired it gave the user an electric shock. Therefore, of the two gigs - you were better off at St Albans.