The Brook, Portswood, Southampton, Thu 20th May (29/5/99)

Graham Burgess:

A pleasant trip to Hampshire's best town beginning with "S" and ending with "Outhampton" brought us quickly to The Brook, surely the sister pub of the cover star of This Leaden Pall. Inside, however, the venue was excellent - nice big stage (c/w swimming pool steps!), crystal clear sound and surely the country's tallest bar. The band were already playing when we got there cos the box office chappy had lied to us earlier in the day about stage times but a good-sized crowd was in attendance and everyone appeared to be familiar with the band and up for a good time. The Four Lads played a mix of old and new songs, as you do, with each one seeming to go down as well as the one before. Older faves such as Trumpton Riots sparked the heavily-female mosh-puddle into a right old froth and newer hits Paintball... and Country Practice had those present chuckling, as per. Whilst I can't remember all the details involved, I do remember not disliking any of the new new songs, even though Feedback borrows wholesale from Roxy Music's Dance Away. However, since I can't imagine Brian singing "Let him in - he's got a theremin" about Mr. Eno, I guess all is forgiven. Some lyrical gems from Nigel in a song based on "She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain" such as "Do you turn the kitchen light off with your lip?" and "there is nothing worse than trying to wash a sieve". Has he been spying on me? Again?

After the set proper ended the Biccies returned for a 3 (at least) song encore including not only a cover of Joy Division's Transmission but also what I imagine was their first performance of Jimmy Webb's Witchita Lineman, made famous by, err, that bloke. Quite a change in tone for the band and showed that Nigel can actually sing proper if he wants to!

All in all, an excellent evening and, even with some of my own favourites from Voyage... missing, probably the best of the half dozen-or-so HMHB gigs I've been to over the last couple of years. It always amazes me that this band is dismissed by some as a joke when, in all honestly, there wasn't a bad or boring song on display tonight. Well, it doesn't amaze me but it's a shame none-the-less. One day, maybe, their time will come. Again.