Colin T Robinson:
The Star & Garter felt like a bit of a step back in time into my past-life. One of those pubs where there is no need to actually visit the toilet in order to know that it'll be lacking in those little luxuries that we all eventually become accustomed to, like paper, seats and lights. The dingy black walls, plastic glasses and precious little lighting made me remember student days when this was the norm. Not that this spoiled the evening, but it was an experience kind of like finding an old Bauhaus LP in your record collection - you loved it at the time, but now you can't see why.
Cosmopolitan Manchester attracted quite a number of real HMHB fans and it was great to see so many other people who knew the full set. I'm reliably informed that the band themselves were there too, although this could have been a lie as the stage gave the appearance of actually being lower than the audience and, at first, I thought that Nigel and the boys had gone all 'hippy-fied' and taken to sitting during gigs.
The playlist was a nicely mixed bag and my current fave CD ('Godcore') was visited via Fretwork Homework and Sponsoring The Mospits (sic) - although no Fear My Wraith, which I reckon is one of their best. There was certainly quite a leaning towards 'Voyage' and the show opened to Deep House Victim's... and included Dead Men, Monmore Hare's Running, PRS Yearbook and the now obligatory Paintball's. Despite the fact that I know absolutely nothing about Magazine, I think I recognised Song From Under The Floorboards and, being a golfer myself, I was very appreciative of Yipps and the 'Bacon rolls' one too (to the tune of 'Winter Wonderland' - 'Bacon roll on arrival, doesn't mean that I'm liable, to patronise you, with 12 of me mates, just because the kids are back at school').
I really don't want to say this but - dare I suggest that this wasn't quite as good as I've seen the boys? (Cue angry emails) I dunno, maybe I'm just a miserable old git but, not the best venue acoustically and there were a couple of times when Nigel got a bit lost on some tunes and had to stutter or start again. It was cool to see the birth of new stuff though, and I'll be able to say 'Ah yes, I remember back in 1999 when Nigel had barely learnt the words to this one, before they went all commercial and sang on the Nescafe ad, he hardly knew Celine Dion before then you know...'. Either way the gig was still great (isn't it always) and every time that I see HMHB live I can't help but start planning when I can catch them again.
The evening's entertainment didn't stop with the gig however and any punters buying some of the new merchandise downstairs could marvel at the fact that the second floor hadn't caved in. The rhythmic dancing above had encouraged it to slowly collapse. Okay so I'm exaggerating, but looking at it from the ground floor and seeing the ever-increasing wall crack, (it had increased during the night) it was clear that the second floor could well fall down into the first sometime; during the trip home I prayed for a Sporty Spice gig to be the one that did it...