London Astoria, Fri 21st July (24/6/00)

Bill McComish:

Leaving the London Astoria 2, at 10.50 pm on Saturday, I couldn't but think back to the gigs I attended at Belfast Queen's University in the late 70s. In those days the doors normally hadn't *opened* by 2250...

The lads worked hard to overcome the venue's limitations and eccentricity, opening with a confident Uffington Wassail. Oldsters in the crowd were cheered by Fred Titmus, Reflections, and later on a lively Trumpton Riots. From '4 Lads' we were treated to Indie Kids and Secret Gig, while from the depths of the biscuit tin came Season Tickets, Squabble Fest and a spooky Footprints.

Not having since the band since about 1992, and relying on the mailing list and website for current gossip, I was surprised by the number of old songs and slightly disappointed by the non-appearance of a couple of favourites from the new album. Still, we did hear Uffington, Purists, Lookalikes, Mathematically Safe and Garage People, all of which went down well with my fellow 30-somethings Dave, Mark and Richard. All too soon it was time for a brief but enjoyable encore- Country Practice and Bottleneck, before young Mark had a difference of opinion with the bouncers!

The sound quality wasn't brilliant- a view clearly shared by the band, who offered lengthy breaks between some songs- and Neil's mike didn't seem to work properly, but these are minor quibbles. London should see HMHB more often. PS I have missed at least one song- another reviewer will fill you in...

A word for support act John Otway and his guitarist Richard. We heard the hit- and its b-side- before John impersonated Dylan covering Gloria Gaynor, and completed three handstands from atop a step-ladder. Very agile!