Edinburgh Liquid Room, Thu 30th June (05/07/11)

Mark Boyle:

First signs of summer in Scotland are an outbreak of baggy shorts, gladiator sandals, tourists easily identifiable by their tans not having the crispy texture of the sunbedded locals, and Half Man Half Biscuit deciding it's warm enough to venture past Hadrian's Wall.

Those in Edinburgh that have ever wondered what former local superbrat Scott Brown (former Hibernian's player and now Glasgow Celtic's captain, a concept even more bizarre than Bob Wilson, Anchorman) gets up to in the summer may have rubbed their eyes in surprise at the lead guitarist at excellent old-school indie support band The Marionettes. Could it be? But it was likely that more were paying attention to the band's stunning photographer than being stunned by their stage moves. Note to support bands: don't have an entourage that's better looking than yourselves.

No such worries for the four men that shook the Wirrel, although they did have problems with a rather overambitious illuminations operative who thought it was a Fields of The Nephilim gig, with at various stages an eerie glow in the mauve light coming off the bands clothes and Carl Henry's overbite, or being momentarily stunned by pure white backlight. Nigel eventually complaining about the way the spotlights were being manoeuvred was caused defraction off his bald head and blinding the rest of the band. All that was now required was an inflatable henge, two dwarves and a Shrewsbury Town top and it could have been 'Spinal Tap - The Indie Years'.

The Best Things In Life
Bottleneck at Capel Curig
When The Evening Sun Goes Down
A Lilac Harry Quinn
Petty Sessions
Lark Descending
Fuckin' Ell It's Fred Titmus
Reflections in A Flat
Left Lyrics In The Practice Room
Totnes Bickering Fair
Gouranga outro from Twydale's Lament
Turned Up Clocked On Laid Off
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel (Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train)
Look Dad No Tunes
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
Bob Wilson Anchorman
1966 And All That
Moody Chops
24 Hour Garage People
For What Is Chatteris?
Vatican Broadside
National Shite Day
Everything's AOR


Worried Man Blues
99% Of Gargoyles
Joy Division Oven Gloves

Quite a lot of the set was from the very early years, and some were taken aback with how much of the slower, quieter numbers were in, but it's nice to see HMHB rotating the lists so everything appears to get an airing at sometime. Of course, 'Joy Division Oven Gloves' - the band's first 'official' mainstream singles chart appearance - was there as ever along with 'We Built This Village On A Trad. Arr. Tune', but surprised to see 'Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess' and 'Took Problem Chimp To The Ideal Home Show' are already dropped.

Some were disappointed that the recent cover version., 'Holiday In Cambodia' went unaired, but with the gig happening the same day several members of the Khmer Rouge were finally standing trial a mere three decades later for their genocide, perhaps the Biccies felt it was a touch inappropriate. You never know, maybe 'Joy Division Oven Gloves' is the current Cambodia Singles Chart No 1 and Nigel's keeping quiet about it.

Interesting also to note in this first gig since the Lux Familiar Cup that only the runner-up 'For What Is Chatteris' was played, much to the Gig Twats dismay. Inbetween thrashing around ridiculously to any songs from the early years like they're swallowed a pneumatic dildo (the things Argos stock nowadays in their summer catalogue...), they shouted themselves hoarse for 'A Country Practice' to no avail. Which was rather unpleasant for those like myself situated beside and behind some of them. Here's a tip lads, before you come to gigs, brush your teeth. It's a courtesy to your fellow Biccie fans so they don't have to suffer facial burns from your breath: halitosis doesn't mature with age like that Mother Shipton's you 'quaffed' at the Shap Real Ale Festival a decade ago that gave you it.

A change of pace, and in retrospect a refreshing change at that, a blistering triple whammy of Vatican Broadside, National Shite Day and Everything's AOR before the encore more than sufficient for the moshers. As for those complaining about the sound quality, if you want a gig with the sound so stupidly loud you can't distinguish one note from the other because your molecules are vibrating so much, go watch Motorhead or become an industrial turbine engineer.