The Robin 2, Bilston, Thu 31st August 2006 (04/09/06)

Mike Cresswell:

Life is a sequence of events. Sometimes, they link; by co-incidence, pure chance, or possibly; fate. Driving to and from a Biscuit gig is a time for reflection. On the way to Bilston, I recalled a recent conversation with a friend. We were chatting about the important things in life; football, golf and the random nature of fuel prices.

There had been an interesting discourse about Nigel Adderley and the winding course of the A41, effectively from Selfridges (near Marble Arch) in London to Birkenhead. As it was the last day of the transfer window and things were getting tense at various Premiership clubs, Mr. Adderley was popping up hither and thither, to keep us up-to-date with Cole-gate, etc. It also occurred to me, as I was sitting in a tiresome jam on the A14, that the Robin 2 in Bilston was literally no more than a well-struck sand wedge away from the A41.

Perhaps, before my usual endless piffle, let us have the set-list: -

Irk the Purists
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes
Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo
Reflections in a Flat
San Antonio Foam Party
Corgi Registered Friends
We Built This Village on a Trad. Arr. Tune
The Light at the End of the Tunnel (Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train)
For What is Chatteris...
Running Order Squabble Fest
Look Dad No Tunes
Joy Division Oven Gloves
When the Evening Sun Goes Down
Trumpton Riots
Secret Gig
Twenty Four Hour Garage People
Them's the Vagaries
Bad Review
Vatican Broadside
Tending the Wrong Grave for 23 Years
Fuckin' 'Ell, It's Fred Titmus
Everything's A.O.R.


Twydale's Lament
I Hate Nerys Hughes

I fear that my reviews are formulaic. I am not qualified to comment (leave it there, Michael) on musical content, as I can't play music, nor can I read music. But I like a nice tune - you're forced to. However, my comment is related to the comment. I am the seeker of the snippet. The cunning aside. The juxtaposition between trend and divergence. For me, the essence of a Biscuit show. I say "show", because I like to draw a parallel between a recent interview with Rolf Harris and a Biscuit gig. Can you see where I'm going yet? Rolf was subtly trying to suggest that modern entertainers are a little short of lateral talent, by saying that when he broke into showbiz, an entertainer was expected to be able to write a song, sing it, tell a joke, recite a story, dance, interact with the audience and finish with a painting.

Let's face it; Robbie Williams's act revolves around him singing, pouting and wriggling his derriere. Now, I can do two out three of those and I have minus zero talent. So, am I comparing Nigel to Rolf Harris? Well, he has not drawn a sketch during a show as yet, but there is still time. I hope it will be interpreted as a compliment?

On to the moments that tickled my fancy. There was a nice atmosphere in the 'Robin', which I thought was summed up by the notice behind the bar; "Cobs for sale". You don't see that down my way. It started in exactly the right vein; Nigel appeared on stage and tried to check that his guitar was in tune. A bemused look and a shout from the mosh-pit; "Plug it in". "Oh yeah". We were off to a flyer.

"Mountain Bikes" is a quality tune and I like the ever-changing lyrics of the last verse. This time, before the gods that made the gods were born; "that's when I said a re-make, that's when I said a re-make; a re-make of 'The Wicker Man' will stink". A pilgrimage had been made to Chatteris by the band on the way to Cambridge and I think that it can be said that the cake shop was good and that the public toilets by the library are very clean.

There was some excellent banter with the audience throughout. There is collected warmth about the experience that is now "Twenty Four Hour Garage People". "Nerys Hughes?" was an early imploration. An instant rejoinder; "That's one of ours". The appearance of the "caravan" also produces mirth and banter in equal measure.

Not only is this still generating amusement due to the novelty ("must get some net curtains"), but it exposes a new stratum of persiflage. After some raillery about caravanning in general, Nigel pointed to one of the moshers; "I bet you've been caravanning in Rhyl. I've seen you up the Sky Tower, in your Walsall shirt". At one point, after much frantic tuning, it was commented by Nigel that he might have the 'phone Green Flag.

In Footprints, God once again replies; "You stupid, stupid, bastard". I love that. "Trad. Arr. Tune" was unveiled with; "This song is about Joni Mitchell and Bob Harris being in the same room". Equally mystifying was the mention of Thomas Wessinghage (the 1982 European 5,000 metres champion) at the introduction of "Evening Sun".

We were also given some thoughts for the day. "Mr Pizza; if you learn how to spell Hawaiian correctly, I might buy one". Also, "lazy grammar equals bad hygiene in the kitchen". This immediately cancels out any thoughts of eating at the house of a certain number of people of my acquaintance. Some quality fretwork from Kenneth "Strings" Hancock during "Wrong Grave"; imitating a veritable woodland worth of creatures, prompting Nigel to mention that he hadn't expected the arrival of a school of dolphins. "Fred Titmus" was prefixed with "This song was written when Bob Dylan went dyslexic".

Almost inevitably, I finish (thank Cliff, I hear you cry!) with "Twenty Four Hour Garage People". On the Futures Exchange, the price of a 'put' is £1.06 and a 'call' at 85p. Nigel appreciates that this has become a cameo moment, because there is a mutual air of anticipation in the crowd as we wait for the prices. Not dissimilar to that film, "Trading Places", when the whole of the fortune of the Duke Brothers depends upon the fate of the orange crop.

Our hapless attendant gets most of the stick as usual. He is 'Chief', 'Ace' or, if he is over 50, 'Captain'. He has his hands on his hips, not in a kindly John Le Mesurier type of way, but in a hissy-fit kinda way. What a lovely image. The mental picture almost makes buying petrol a pleasure, despite the price of filling my tank.

However, the new addition to the set previewed at Cambridge, was an instant success at Bilston. The iPod, on shuffle, was playing some quite delightful melodies; 'Mr. Blue Sky', VM's 'Brown-Eyed Girl', 'Dancing in the Moonlight' from Toploader (I think?), Bill Wither's "Lovely Day', Starship's "We Built This City' and finally; Boston's 'More Than a Feeling'. There is a fair chance that this will be available as a blue CD on the Hallmark label at a filling station near you.

As ever an excellent experience (more than a gig) and a fine way of spending a Thursday evening. In my humble opinion, it was a very nice venue and a top quality crowd with a small, but enthusiastic mosh-pit. Plus some tunes. Thanks, boys; for another fine evening. Roll on Holmfirth.