The Assembly, Leamington Spa, Fri 11th April 2014 (12/04/14)

Roger Green:

Sometimes life throws these little conundrums at you. But I am forced to ask. How come Leamington Spa's six o'clock "local" news programme is South Today, reporting on the likes of Bournemouth and Southampton? Yet, quite clearly, their own football team plays in the Skrill Conference North, with trips to Workington and Barrow. At the very least, I would have expected to see Midlands Today, but I can not argue with the strategies of either the FA or the BBC. Just asking. Maybe I should have mentioned it to someone more in tune with Midlands culture. I had the opportunity to discuss with Tony, and also with Dave, a regular at HMHB shows in this area. And then again, I'm not even sure if I have got the correct plural of "conundrum". Self-doubt, the old problem.

On the subject of linguistics, I was pleased to see HMHB mentioned in the Assembly's quarter-page advert in The Courier. But I was troubled to see the listing of the five-worded "Echo And The Bunny Men". Surely to goodness, "Bunnymen" is one word? The Courier also carried a story of mystery messages left on boards at the side of the A46, seemingly from lovers making their tiff very public. There was one pictured, stating "Quick Drink After Work Plz". Intriguing stuff, and almost certainly providing material for a future HMHB song. Not much else to announce. My usual eatery had closed, so I was left to successfully take up the challenge of the Mega Breakfast at The Big Cup Café. From there I had a look at Head, which had been featured in an article in the paper about the forthcoming Record Shop Day. The HMHB section was, as usual, next to Hall And Oates. And, also as usual, it was devoid of stock.

I met up with Tony and exchanged a Charlie Parr CD for a copy of Rhubarb Bomb fanzine. After a quick discussion of the possibility of a joint relegation for Doncaster Rovers and Birmingham City we were ready for a set by Roja. Just lately they seem to have had to relinquish the mantle of Probe Plus Support Band Of Choice, but it looked like they had never been away. I need to swot up on some of the song titles, but the set was mainly made up of tracks from their CD Promises I Should Have Kept. They started with the whistly one and finished with The Evil Stands High. You would never have noticed this was the first outing for their new bassist, Greg. I hope that the pile of their CDs at "the shop" had whittled away by the end of the evening.

After some Ultravox and Soft Cell in the interval, there was what sounded like a fanfare. Tony initially thought it was something written by Ron Goodwin, but it turned out to be The Seahawk by Kormgold. That old favourite. Earlier, Geoff had told me that it had taken four hours to get to Leamington, and things were running slightly late as a result. This was all confirmed on stage by Nigel. "We went to The Traffic Jam Museum on the M6. But we got bored with that, so turned off down the A34, through Stone where I bought my golden retriever. We were decadent and went on the toll road again. Then when we got to Leamington, we spent ages driving round trying to find the venue." There was a shout for "Hattie Jaques". Nigel acknowledged that and said that it came from a time when they wrote songs about things like exhausts and glue. The conversation inevitably moved onto the subject of Crass. Back in the day it seems that Nigel and Neil were only really into the music of that band. They didn't really follow the political line. This led to them being ostracised, particularly when they wrote songs like Smash The Cistern. And, what do you know, they even played a bit of it, Nigel remembering what he could of the words, and Neil playing the bass part. The Crass reference led to a shout for Do They Owe Us A Living?, and Nigel said that their whole album had influenced the following song (Tonight Matthew). Spotting a Barnstoneworth shirt in the crowd, Nigel had the excuse to rattle through the entire team. "Are you Davitt?" he asked. Bogus Official was introduced as a public service announcement. There was a joint effort at the opening to Transmission, after which Nigel said "It's just like The Grumbleweeds." Nigel suggested copying an Elvis Costello idea where he spins an arrow on a board of song titles, and just playing the one where the arrow points. This moved him to thinking about Lennie Bennett's Wheel Of Fortune. "God, that was shite!" he commented. Later on, Nigel got talking with Gomez about Tranmere's prospects. Nigel wants Grayson Perry as the next manager. He had also been talking with a mate who thought they would get "a result" in their forthcoming match with Shrewsbury. Naturally Nigel's feelings were that of course they would get a result. Even a defeat is a result! This frivolous banter was interrupted by a shout from the stalls, "Get on with it!" Which they did. There was further chat about the guy who wrote Jim Reeves' hit I Love You Because (I think Nigel said his name was Leon Payne?). It was all a bit beyond me, but it could be worth googling. Nigel struggled to understand a request for "Brenda Blethyn gets shot," being used to people shouting song titles rather than extracts from the lyrics. There was a bit about Dick Dastardly never winning Wacky Races, and Nigel's reply to a shout for Sealclubbing was that they hadn't played that song for years, and "it's illegal now, anyway." In all the HMHB shows I have seen, I can never remember a couple smooching to songs in the middle of the moshpit, even during Trumpton Riots. There is a first time for everything. Good luck to the two people in question. Maybe they are the ones who were leaving the messages for each other on the A46. They got up close and personal to these little numbers.

Eno Collaberation
Totnes Bickering Fair
Tonight Matthew I'm Going To Be With Jesus
Bogus Official
Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis
Joy In Leeuwarden (We Are Ready)
PRS Yearbook / Quick The Drawbridge
A Lilac Harry Quinn
If I Had Possession Over Pancake Day
Gubba Lookalikes
Bob Wilson Anchor Man
Monmore Hare's Running
Vatican Broadside
Look Dad No Tunes
Joy Division Oven Gloves
Fix It So She Thinks Of Me
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
Stuck Up A Hornbeam
National Shite Day
Took Problem Chimp To Ideal Home Show

And four in the encore...

Them's The Vagaries
For What Is Chatteris?
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel (Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train)
Trumpton Riots

Another grand show at one of the better venues that they play. And it was good to get home and see "HMHB Holmfirth" on my calendar, only a week away.