Noting the band's Addhire van in the Travelodge car park, Tony and I were off and away down the A14 from Stowmarket fairly early in the morning. Looking back, maybe we should have taken the trouble to seek out Peely's grave. That is for next time. Turning our noses up at Bury St Edmunds, we called in at Newmarket. We were fed and watered at The Street Cafe, before walking a quick circuit round the town. We paused briefly to look at the price board at the National Horseracing Museum and then went to the shopping mall, or plaza, however they term it. All the familiar names were in there. I'm afraid that town centres are all becoming the same. We moved on to Cambridge and took a brisk walk around the city. We bumped into Geoff and Steve taking lunch, and then wandered into a University Press bookshop for a sit down and a talk about Hegel, whose writings were prevalent. I thought he was a tennis player.
In the Cambridge News, the gig appeared in the listings under the heading "Other Music". It was either that or "Art", "Classical", "Folk/Country", "Jazz", "Stage" or "Misc". This will provide a useful reference point for the future. Next time someone asks me what kind of music HMHB play, I will simply say "Other Music". That should do.
Outside the venue later on, we met Carl, his girlfriend, and Ken. There was no particular gossip. I raised the prospects of a new CD in the forthcoming. I was told, "Don't hold your breath."
The Probe Plus empire had not been able to provide a support band tonight. So it was down to Model Village to open up the evening. I think their front man said they were from Grays. And he explained that they were down by two members. One was at a Parents Evening, and the other was on holiday in Cromer. I bet the Rolling Stones never had that kind of problem. Nevertheless they did their best, including a spectacular on-stage fall, while swapping instruments. If anything, there was a little bit too much of that. One of the songs was about Mark E Smith, supposedly based on Hip Priest, and appeared to be titled "You Are Appreciated". Quirky but not life-changing.
When HMHB came on stage, the intro music had even Tony baffled. Anybody got any clues about that one? "Anglesey Abbey. Not bad." announced Nigel before When The Evening Sun Goes Down. Following on-stage chat at the Stowmarket gig, he confirmed that they had visited Little Wilbraham, to let the locals know what the residents of Great Wilbraham had been saying about them. They had also intended to call in at Grantchester, but decided against it. Towards the end of Fred Titmus, Nigel put his foot up on the amp and beckoned Ken to join him, a la The Clash. No such luck. "Anybody here from Bradfield Combust?" asked Nigel. Ken was the first man in Wallasey to use a pedestrian crossing. "A bag of kettle crisps to anyone who can name the next tune," he said before they played Bogus Official. I can't remember the last time they played that, and I can't be bothered looking it up. There was a brief burst of "Sandy Gall is coming to town." After Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess there was a sly point of the finger in Neil's direction. Nigel played a fair chunk of Black Sabbath's Beyond The Walls Of Sleep, and he told us that Dukla Prague was actually written by Tony Iommi. In addition, "Peter Shilton's brother in law has never yawned." At one point, while Ken was tuning up, Nigel said to Neil, "Let's do the Joy Division one" and they gave us the opening bars of Digital. The mosh pit was warming to the occasion, to such an extent that the security staff started to pay attention. But I'm not quite sure what they were prepared to do. My city/town theory was put to the sword tonight. I had always thought that the smaller towns brought out the best of HMHB, but Cambridge was by far the best of these two "legs". There was far less of the urgent pointing up and down to the sound desk. But then again it all sounds good to me.The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
And in the encoreFor What Is Chatteris?
And off we went to The Flying Pig to compare notes with Gomez, Daz, Howie, Nigel/Charles and Neil from Sheffield (currently). I had not spoken with Neil before, and he updated me with the sad state of affairs with The Boardwalk. Apparently it is currently standing there doing nothing. Happy days from the many gigs that HMHB played there. The Flying Pig flies a CAMRA Pub Of The Year banner. Pity that we were all kicked out at 11.00. Still, rules are rules, even when you are dealing with a load of thirsty post-gig customers. Ten hours later when I was breakfasting at The Earl Of Derby it was great to bump into Pat, one of many people to help me out with a lift after a gig. Pat had got me to the village where I was staying, after the Roadwater gig. He was saying how a lot of the gigs were distinctly "northern" which means he can't always get there from London. At least this year they are doing a little bit about that. So now there seems to be a bit of a gap, unless something is announced in the meantime. Three months to Birmingham and Brighton. How will we cope?