The Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, Sat 12th June (14/6/99)

Paul Smith:

Having been informed by the over-zealous barmaid that the gig was "almost sold out" when I rang to check when the Biscuits would be on-stage, and that I really ought to book tickets by credit card, I was quite surprised to find a half empty Bullingdon Arms at 9pm. One good thing to be said for the support act Frigid Vinegar was that they were mercifully brief. As for their song about the remembering the Eighties, were they old enough to remember them? A poor third rate Carter without the humour.

HMHB, on the other hand, were on blistering form. It's been too long since I last got a chance to see them live, but I soon realised what I've been missing, they sounded much sharper than I remembered, a fact highlighted by quite how dated the earliest songs which they played in the encore now sound. Was is just coincidence that the amp seemed to expire during Feedback? No matter as the sound seemed to pick up and for the rest of the set was fantastic. The one about the Welsh Goth, was a particular favourite, and the crowd was certainly more involved than some reviews of the other gigs would lead one to believe, in particular the rousing rendition of "You're going on after Crispy Ambulance" sticks in my head. Paintball's Coming Home was superb and time after time it hit home just what an astute observer of the real world Nigel is, I'm sure if he had gone into stand-up he would be world famous by now, but thank God he didn't or my world would be a much drabber place. I don't recall all the songs they played, shame there was no Eno Collaboration but with such a massive back catalogue they can't play everyone's favourites, but suffice to day there wasn't a duff number amongst them. As they left the stage I was already satisfied, and didn't really expect more than one or two tunes as a quick encore, seeing as time was running out (the following club night was due to start in 10 minutes).

As it turned out, a six or seven song encore far exceeded what I was hoping for, and I'm sure showed how much the band seemed to be enjoying themselves, also I'm sure they played such a lengthy encore just to bewilder the Northern Soul fans filtering in towards the end of the gig (A Northern Soul club after a Biscuits gig, strange combination) as it was they overran by at least 20 minutes, what a result! For me, the rendition of Joy Division's Transmission was a triumph and adds fuel to my belief that Nigel is really just an old Goth, (and that when pushed he really can sing.)