The Junction, Cambridge, Wed 30th August 2006 (01/09/06)

John Anderson:

Another hugely enjoyable evening in the company of Britain's finest Birkenhead-based satirical four piece. The first thing I'm always struck by on entering an HMHB gig is the colourful diversity of T-shirts on display in the bar. I don't mean the usual array of Dukla Prague away kits and band merchandise, but garments extolling the "virtues" of the Cardiacs, Trojan Records, the Wedding Present and Venom (they had absurd stage names like Cronos and Abbadon but were actually called things like Geoff and Alan).

The band, of course, don't resort to such sloganeering, with Nigel wearing what looked like a brilliant white cycling jersey (hope he passed the drugs test). The likeness to Jaap Stam has been remarked upon before but I say: "short Jan're just a short Jan Koller." It's the fifth time I've seen the band and enjoyed hearing Bad Review, Bottleneck at Capel Curig, A Shropshire Lad and the Achtung Bono stuff live for the first time. Among the other highlights were the improvised rendition of "Hair LIke Brian May Blues" and the crowd's spirited stab at "Albert Hammond Bootleg."

I laughed loudest during "An Outbreak of Vitas Gerulaitis" when "Why it's Mr Kowalski" was juxtaposed with "Why it's Tomasz Radzinski." As I'm sure Nigel is aware, the goal shy Fulham "marksman" has now scored only three times in his last 51 Premiership appearances. The reference to the pointless remake of "The Wicker Man" in "Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes" was also good as was the cover version of "Shot By Both Sides".

It was my friend Mat's first ever HMHB gig and he observed that, while Kiss have little to fear in the stage entrance stakes, the band have a marvellous back catalogue to draw from and a front man who remains "one of the nation's most pertinent yet criminally underrated social observers" (Pseuds Corner here we come).

My only mild niggle is that "We Built This Village" doesn't seem to have quite the closing number impact of, say, "Look Dad No Tunes", "Everything's AOR" or "A Country Practice". That and the fact that on leaving the Junction you stumble into a neon drenched hinterland of Nando's, KFC, Burger King and other hideous food outlets at the adjoining retail park.

Minor distractions though on a fine night overall, and well worth the train ride up from London. I hear whispers of a gig in the capital in October. I gather the Millennium Dome's available.