Lomas Hall, Sheffield, Fri 22nd February 2013 (23/02/13)

Roger Green:

What did God give us, Neil? The Wedding Present must not have been playing tonight. So the Rotherham Postie, with nothing else to do, was able to shout out his favourite line. Over and over again. As usual.

It would be a reasonable person who would say that this place is at the top of a steady climb. The kind of hill where you struggle home with your bags full of shopping and then realize you forgot to get some bread and/or milk and/or two-for-one Domestos. Never mind, eh. On my pre-gig amble, I noticed a street sign for Highfield Rise. You don't say! Can this gig stake a claim to be HMHB's highest ever above sea level? It appears that the hills in the west of Sheffield are 546 metres above. Or as one website blog puts it, "There are few major cities with such a variety in height within their boundaries anywhere and this adds to the uniqueness of Sheffield, as it allows for such a variety of landscapes within one city." One day I'll do some further investigation, if I can be arsed. But Stannington does appear to tower over Matlock Bath, for example, with its paltry 1000 feet (that works out at about 300 metres, doesn't it?). What did God give us, Neil?

In addition, The Lomas Hall is not the easiest of places to find. The trouble with A to Zs is that they don't show the gradient. I enquired at the paper shop. But the bloke behind the counter said "I'm not from round here. Try the bookies next door." I did so. There I was told "I don't really know the area." I wished him a good evening. Fortunately the woman coming out of the off licence was more help and pointed me in a generally upwards direction. Got there in the end. Parked up. Got talking to the guy from Lovecraft who was trying to get into the building. We listened to HHMB doing their soundcheck before I departed, in search of nourishment. I was well impressed with the fish and chips at the Crown And Glove. To my humble tastes, this was a more agreeable place than the Rose And Crown down the road, but each to their own.

What did God give us, Neil? I was back in time to join the queue outside the hall and got talking to a guy who was at his first HMHB gig. I'm guessing that he would be in his forties. How on earth do you get to that age without seeing this band previously? Oh, and by the way, it is The Lomas Hall. The definite article appears in stone on the front of the building. Eventually we were let in from the cold. The venue had a definite Roadwater feel to it. The village hall, with a badminton court marked out on what tonight would be, ahem, the dance floor. I'm still struggling to fathom out Lovecraft but they are growing on me. They've started wearing boiler suits on stage. No doubt part of their corporate development strategy. It's definitely prog rock more than punk rock. But they were a lot more chatty tonight than on previous occasions. There were a lot of name checks including "Nigel Blackwell of Crosse And Blackwell". Their gear looks like they have had a proper rummage round their local music shop, and Godammit, I like them! And Geoff's stall even sold out of their CDs. It's probably getting overly obsessive, but I lifted their set list.

Tomorrow Never Knows
Arcadia Lake

No Tony tonight, but Howie, Gomez and Daz turned up with rucksacks in time for HMHB. I made it 9.08 when the band arrived on stage. Curiously, Ken entered stage right (or is it stage left?) while the others entered stage left (or is it stage right?). Musical differences, or just practicality? "Welcome to Stannington" was Nigel's rather formal introduction. My apparently impending deafness meant that I couldn't pick up many more of his observations through the evening. Or maybe I was just standing too near the front. There were one or two sound hiccups. That's my excuse, so sorry, much of tonight's caustic commentary is lost. I'm also losing the power of recall. It took time for a couple of the song titles to come to me. Tonight's featured album was Some Call It Godcore, much of which has not featured at these shows for a while. Nigel had two microphones on stage. Does this sound better? Or this one? He said one of them was producing an echo. But when you are a proper musician you are supposed to refer to it as reverb. Nigel referred to a slippiness on stage. This led to him trying out a Blackwell Moonwalk. Most impressive. What did God give us, Neil? "A bus service between Rotherham and Sheffield." Part of the rider was the provision of Tyrrell's crisps. Nigel had a packet of Lightly Sea Salted on stage. (Later on, I managed to burst in on the backstage aftershow. They had Sea Salt and Cider Vinegar there. Showbiz.) Towards the end of the gig I was used as a lever for folk to do a spot of stage-diving. I'm OK with that, and I was happy to look after the chap's spectacles - health and safety and all that. Just try not to pull my shoulder out of its joint while you're lifting yourself up. That's my writing arm. No "proper" cover version tonight, although there was an improv version of I Wanna Be Your Dog, while Ken was tuning up Nigel's guitar between "Leeuwarden" and "Chatteris". What did God give us, Neil? Here's how the show went.

When The Evening Sun Goes Down
Sensitive Outsider
San Antonio Foam Party
Restless Legs
Totnes Bickering Fair
Shit Arm Bad Tattoo
A Lilac Harry Quinn
Fear My Wraith
Joy Division Oven Gloves
Evil Gazebo
Bob Wilson Anchorman
Joy In Leeuwarden
For What Is Chatteris?
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Floreat Inertia
Deep House Minibus Appeal
Rock 'n' Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools
Little In The Way Of Sunshine
Fix It So She Thinks Of Me
Vatican Broadside
We Built This Village
National Shite Day

For the encore, Nigel asked if there was time for "a couple more". It was a loose definition of "couple".

Sponsoring The Moshpits
The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman
Dukla Prague
Fred Titmus
The Best Things In Life (the bit at the end)

And that was that. That's my last HMHB gig while I am this side of 50. I hope my eyes, ears and memory are still up for it on the other side. From a chat with Geoff there could be a fair few shows coming up later in the year, so there will be plenty of chance to find out.