Manchester review, Fri 30th Nov (8/12/01)

Chris Cole:

Having followed HMHB from the early raw days of "Back in the DHSS ", it was a delight to see the band run through a repertoire spanning all of their releases. The sound was excellent, and Nigel's words could be heard clearly, despite the volume. How PA systems have improved since I started attending gigs back in the sixties!

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Nigel writes some of the funniest lyrics I've ever heard, although I suspect that the subtlety and irony contained in these would, like the Goodyear airship in "A Lilac Harry Quinn" go completely over the heads of individuals raised on either traditional "comics" (sic) such as Bernard Manning or the PC obsessed alternative brigade.

I've probably seen the band about fifteen times over the last fifteen years and it's been great to see how they've developed musically, a fact often neglected by reviewers. HMHB are not only exceedingly funny; they are bloody fine musicians to boot. Highlights for me were Look Dad, No Tunes, Albert Hammond Bootleg and the closing song, A Country Practice, which I've not heard live before. Other commentators have referred to presence of touts outside the gig and the fact that last time the band were about to become big, they inexplicably decided to split. Personally I'm heartened by the fact that more and more people are beginning to appreciate the unique appeal of HMHB, although I very much doubt that they'll ever go mainstream and "Join Jools for the jam sketch!"

HMHB are an antidote to the increasingly manufactured and money obsessed pop industry, the very antithesis of back slapping and arse licking awards ceremonies. Peel has described them as a national treasure. Who am I to disagree with the view of one so worthy?