The Boardwalk, Sheffield, 20th November (25/11/02)

Mr Blue Sky:

Sheffield. Famous for giving us Joe Cocker, Jarvis Cocker and now these old cockers. Yes, as the Birkenhead Van Hire, er, van,trundled into the Don Valley, one wondered what changes may have come in the year since the "golf swing" gig. Could they have re-invented themselves in a U2-stylee with Nigel wearing wrap around shades? Could they have gone all nouveau-punk on us and changed their names to "The Halfs" and dress like Scruffy McGuffey? Would they bring back the bloke in the shellsuit who used to play keyboards for those difficult new songs?

It was a relief therefore to see a packet of Ready Salted Walkers crisps waiting on the stage for Nigel as they effortlessly slipped back into live action with the surprising opener "A Lilac Harry Quinn".

The new album was well represented with Pancake Day a paticular stand out. Nigel even swapped Axes with Neal and let "Cheggers" take centre stage for a brilliant "Shes in Broadstairs." It's a shame we didnt get to hear if "Breaking News" could be the new "Country Practice" but their cover version of The Damned's "New Rose" (with Nigels profile making him look a bit too much like Roman Jugg) was worth the admission fee alone.

The best soundbites included...

"Greatest Briton...Captain Mainwaring"
"Is she really going out with him"
"Rostrum Camera, Ken Morse" (although personally I think we should also raise our glasses to Vision Mixer, Roz Storey and Videotape Editor, Mykola Pawluk!)

There was even time for some crowd participation singalongs, why he'll be splitting the audience down the middle soon to see who can sing loudest!

It was great to meet some members of the forum, even if Stu did think that I was a city fan (if so I'd claim to take 10,000 to every away gig and sing "you don't come from Birkenhead")