Manchester review, Fri 30th Nov (2/12/01)

Stuart Fairbrother:

Geoff's sales technique is definitely more aggresive these days and, as a consequence I am now the proud owner of a HMHB woolly (well, 100% acryllic) hat. Touts, cameras and hundreds of people here to see the "World's Greatest Band", Peel's new superlative for HMHB stated the night before during his mention of this gig.

Not as dramatic as last year's Hop & Grape entrance, but an 'entrance' nonetheless. A bit Fall-esque, y'know, obscure soundtrack preceding the arrival of the band (I thought that as well - Gez), the singer coherent and vertical though. Dodgy barnet mind.

The first two songs were poles apart chronologically, Bob Wilson - Fred Titmus. These were followed by a storming hour and a half set and encore of extracts from the full repertoire with Song to the Siren and New Dawn Fades thrown in. I'd never heard Used to be in Evil Gazebo live so, for me, that was a refreshing addition to the set list.

The Garden of Eden/Paradise Lost ditty was hilarious and Nigel was obviously enjoying himself firing off at tangents between songs, with a hit and miss Googie Withers gag, and during songs - the line "A loaded gun won't set you free, so they say" delivered in Manchester followed by a practice golf stroke (from where I stood a definite slice) was, well, mischievious. Nigel acknowledged, with a nod of approval, Neil's superb lead guitar during that cover.

When I clocked Nigel's barnet I was hoping it was a result of being too busy writing new songs to get to the barbers. But it appears not.

So, out into the pouring rain and immediately I was thankful that Geoff forced me to buy a hat.