Shepherd's Bush Empire, Thu 21st December 2006 (26/12/06)

Roger Green:

Queuing round the block is not something that long-term HMHB fans are used to. But that's how it seems to be in the capital. Particularly at venues this size. The more astute had of course got tickets for "Levels One And Two", which seemed to translate as the posh seats, leaving the rest of us chilled to the bone. Nigel claimed to have spotted Cornelius Lycett early on in the gig. I was too far away to either confirm or deny. Although I did also spot a Sophie Rayworth lookalike. Another feature in the modern day is the emphasis on Health And Safety. I was pulled up for stepping over a white line which I assume was there for my own protection in case I got too near the speakers. Which begs the question - what if I actually wanted to be near the speakers? And there was also a notice which thankfully was observed by all. "Crowd surfing is dangerous and will result in ejection from the venue." Scary stuff. The security personnel seemed to mean business, they were wearing fluorescent green after all so it was best that no-one tried. I know they are only doing their job but sometimes I wish something would be done about talking at gigs, rather than making sure that folk stand behind white lines on the floor. I was there to see (and hear) the band. At this show I played a sort of roving, sweeper role, taking up various vantage points during the evening. When I was in one of the back corners I noticed just how many folk were busy chattering away to each other. This was particularly emphasised during the quiet bits of Twenty-Four Hour Garage People. Why pay all that money just to talk all night? Can't they just stop in the pub, or at home, and do that, rather than drowning out what is going on? One last gripe. The Guinness was an outrageous £3.45, but hey this is London. And on a plus point, the smalltown boy was pleasantly surprised to see public transport still running after 10.30 at night. Let's stay positive here. I'm biased and it's difficult to pick out particular highlights but there was an absolutely seamless segway between Albert Hammond Bootleg and Them's The Vagaries. And Nigel produced one of the most venomous performances ever of A Country Practice. I can't add anything to the comments of the bloke I was listening to on the way out, as he was telling his mate. "There's not many bands you can say this about. I've seen these about a dozen times now, and they haven't let me down yet." Amen to that.

The set was

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Shit Arm Bad Tattoo
Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus
Joy Division Oven Gloves
Bad Review
Mathematically Safe
For What Is Chatteris
Lark Descending
Restless Legs
Look Dad No Tunes
Bob Wilson Anchor Man
Outbreak Of Vitas Geralitis
CORGI Registered Friends
Running Order Squabble Fest
Vatican Broadside
Albert Hammond Bootleg
Them's The Vagaries
Twenty-Four Hour Garage People
We Built This Village On A Trad Arr Tune
Paintball's Coming Home
Trumpton Riots
A Country Practice

And there were four in the encore

What's My Name
It's Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas
Everything's AOR
The Best Things In Life

And that's another year of HMHB gigs. Bilston was probably my favourite of the whole year, but how can you really compare? On the whole musically I've been to see some top stuff when not on HMHB duty. Near to home, Leeds and Sheffield are both "happening" places with plenty of bands to see. Look out for The Lodger. And I was fair chuffed to see The Nightingales for the first time for about twenty years. Glad to see them back in business. I also see that Ted Chippington is doing the rounds again - hope to catch him somewhere or other in 2007. Who's the next to reform? Let's hope for Bogshed. But no matter, there is still only one band that I will be following up and down the land. Manchester next, isn't it?