The Assembly, Leamington Spa, Thu 11th December 2008 (14/12/08)

Roger Green:

A bit of confusion to start the night off. It seems that there are two Assemblies in Leamington Spa. The clever ones no doubt got it right first time, but this thick bastard realised he might have got it wrong when faced with an extremely well-dressed (and polite) doorman. In the background, a string quartet or some such like was tuning up. It was clear I had either got the wrong venue, or HMHB had taken a radical new musical direction. Sure enough the guy on the door (a veteran of this procedure, as it turned out) was happy to point me in the right direction. Michael Jackson's "Beat It" was blaring out of the place at the end of the night as I walked back. So they obviously had an evening of musical variety, but not as good as the time I had.

Plenty of familiar faces in the pub beforehand, as well as at the venue. The Midlands fan base was obviously out in force. At the gig Nigel was happy to point out that this was Randolph Turpin's home town, as well as the place where the first Lawn Tennis club was founded. Of course I knew these things already, having had a quick late afternoon tour round the museum / art gallery. I was also witness to the insides being ripped out of Woolworth's by eager bargain-seekers. And while I'm at it, if ever you are stuck for somewhere to go for breakfast in Leamington Spa, head for Zeb's cafe. Quality and quantity.

The gig itself was notable for three things. No Trumpton Riots (surely a collector's item), no cover version, and one of the amps had to be subbed half way through. Diagnosis unknown at the time of writing, but there was, without fear of contradiction, no sound coming from Nigel's guitar. However, battle-hardened trooper that he is, he commandeered Ken's guitar and seamlessly waded into "Chatteris" while the new amp was put in place behind him. There was also some "Half Man Half Biscuit" ale knocking around, but that had all gone by the time I got round to investigating. That aside, here's how it all went.

Petty Sessions
We Built This Village
Uffington Wassail
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes
Ode To Joyce
Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis
Restless Legs
Took Problem Chimp To Ideal Home Show
Bob Wilson Anchor Man
Mate Of The Bloke
Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess
24 Hour Garage People
Look Dad No Tunes
For What Is Chatteris?
Four Skinny Indie Kids
Totnes Bickering Fair
Dukla Prague Away Kit
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Yipps (My Baby Got The)
Tending The Wrong Grave
PRS Yearbook
Blue Badge Abuser
Shit Arm Bad Tattoo
Vatican Broadside
National Shite Day

And just two in the encore this time...

Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus
Joy Division Oven Gloves

So another year of following this band around, with one exception. I was, as they say, gutted when a works trip to Germany prevented me from getting to the festival in the middle of summer, but you can't have everything. I've seen some top shows this year from the likes of Fonda 500, Jeffrey Lewis and the Manhattan Love Suicides. But there remains only one band that I will be travelling any distance to see in 2009. Already raced in with holiday requests to accommodate visits to Bilston and the Scotland "tour". That's how it goes when you have nothing else going on in your life.