I've seen the band at various points around Birmingham, but this is the first time I've caught them in the city itself. As Nigel pointed out during the gig, when he was looking at one of the screens displayed around the side of the hall, the moshpits are now sponsored. O2's name is everywhere.
My first observation of Midlands culture concerned the regional TV news programme, Midlands Today. Nick Ross presents the show on his own. This is admirable compared to Yorkshire's Look North, where Harry Gration tends to require assistance. No doubt Ross is on a right wedge. There was a brief mention in the listings section of The Birmingham Mail, along with Rudimental who were appearing in the larger hall at the same place. Also in the listings was the intriguing sounding Bootleg Shadows who were on somewhere in Solihull.
An added bonus to the evening was an appearance by Beorma Morris, featuring the HMHB fan also know as Tony. I'm not a particular expert on this practice, so I am not totally sure why they appear "blacked up", rather than in the more usual white outfits. You would have to ask Tony that. But it bemused the folk in the Rudimental queue. And the touts. (The touts were there for Rudimental, by the way.) I assume Beorma are available for the usual, weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs etc. I definitely want to see them if they ever play a bar mitzvah. As above, see Tony for details. It would have been rude to not ask for a set list.British Grenadiers
Once inside, and having established that there was absolutely nothing new whatsoever at the Probe Plus stall, I took in the surroundings. It struck me as a slightly bleak venue, just a standard square box. I don't think I have seen so much dry ice since The Sisters Of Mercy played at Leeds Uni in 1984. Bad light would have definitely stopped play, unless you could have got the slow bowlers on. I was intrigued by a sign at the side of the stage. "Crowd Surfing And Throwing Objects Will Get You Thrown Out." That took some dissecting. Presumably you could Crowd Surf as a distinct action on its own. Then later on you could throw an object. As long as these things are done at different times, it appears that you are OK. You are only likely to be in bother if you do them at the same time. But in any case I would have thought that your aim would be affected if you were bobbing along on top of all the other punters. Maybe that is something to be discussed some other time.
Yet again, Roja were the support band. They have an album to flog, you know. You rarely get crowd surfing when they are on stage. Sandals are the footwear of choice. I ought to know all their songs by now. Although I suppose I know the songs, it's just the titles that do not spring to mind. They started with the whistly one, and they did the one about silence. They finished off with The Evil Stands High. Their CD, "Promises I Should Have Kept" is in the shops very soon. Maybe you should just get in touch with Geoff for a copy.
After that, it was over to HMHB. Nigel's first comment was "Still not getting colder, is it?". I would have said it was "colder" than in, say, July. So I wasn't totally sure what he meant. Statistical evidence required? I noticed all four of the group were wearing wristbands. Obviously a requirement (a health and safety issue?) at these venues. A Lilac Harry Quinn is about an occasion when Christ appeared in a Dorothy Perkins shop. After Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus, Nigel said that the next song also started with an F. I checked. He was right. It was Floreat Inertia. He pointed out another hazard of these multi-stage venues. "One of the sinks is blocked backstage. It was probably Rudimental." He had a go at playing the theme from Pointless. "This is about a wrongness from a long time ago," he said before Bob Wilson Anchorman. After which, someone shouted out "See also: Adrian Chiles!" This in turn prompted a discussion about said presenter. "He's shit scared of Roy Keane," suggested Nigel, to general agreement. There was a bit of chat about the previous week's World Cup qualifier between England and Poland. More specifically it related to the famous match at Wembley, as part of the qualification for the 1974 World Cup. Apparently Nigel had heard Radio Wales say that Poland knocked England out at that time. He contacted them to put them right. Poland had got an away draw in a league format. Technically, that did not mean that knocked England out. It seems that he is still waiting for a reply. There was a snippet of "We've Got Tonight"(sorry, can't remember who sang the original) with Nigel's follow up line "who needs next Wednesday?" There was a bit of chat about Chas And Dave's appearance on "Later". HMHB had stopped off at Stafford Services on their way to Birmingham. It seems that this was a first for the band. Apparently Ken couldn't hang on until Hilton Park. There was some celebrity spotting. Bev Bevan! Nigel said that ELO were OK, until they did Xanadu. Their early stuff was great, but they were generally not as good as The Move. The meadow of consolation bit in Tending The Wrong Grave prompted Nigel to think of The Clangers. They were a bit overrated, but he thought it was a good idea to have dustbin lids on the moon. There is a village near Bakewell called Blackwell. During Footprints we were told that the Lord had become so incensed that he sentenced our man to a life of purgatory in a house containing "Adrian Chiles and Adrian Chiles and Adrian Chiles." During the drumming intro to Totnes Bickering Fair, Nigel said "Are you ready, Steve?" a la Ballroom Blitz. He referred back to a time when he had visited Birmingham Town Hall, on his way to a Tranmere game at Walsall, when he had called in to see the Staffordshire Horde. "I wrote this at Flushing Meadow," he announced before the start of Vitas Geralitis. There was some chat about zoos. A particular annoyance is when someone next to you cracks the old joke about What Do Penguins Have For Their Lunch? Half an hour, like everyone else. But the worst thing about zoos is when they put a "g" at the end of Orang-Utan. Asparagus Next Left is "a public information song". There was a short burst of Leonard Cohen's Bird On A Wire before Chatteris in the encore.
Here's how it all went:Really it all began with the ATV theme
And three songs in the encoreFor What Is Chatteris
Howie reported a reserved night in the moshpit, mainly due to the presence of a lady at the front sitting on a bar stool. After the gig, I joined the members of Beorma Morris who went round to the artistes door, hoping for a group photo with HMHB. It wasn't to be. Perhaps there was a band meeting behind locked doors, to discuss the absence of a cover version. Also, there may or may not be new songs just round the corner. It can't be long before they get an airing.