There was a slightly unsettling opening to this escapade when I noticed Dion Dublin presenting Homes Under The Hammer. It's an unusual career route via Final Score, but good luck to the lad. And he's already trying to perfect that thing, as noted by Nigel, where presenters of the programme have to look like their hands are stuck together with a magnet.
After that, I gathered my thoughts and managed to make the meeting with Karen at the allotted time at Leeds station. We broke up the trip to Glasgow by taking in an overnighter in Lancaster. Most impressed with the Fortune Star Chinese restaurant, and with the bacon butties in the morning at the Gingernut Cafe. However, the Lancaster one-way system was neither smooth nor commendable from what we could see. Good job we were on foot. Our mode of transport meant that we were able to observe the plaque noting that the railway station won the "Best Kept In Railtrack North West Zone 1998" award. Let's hope they can follow that up some time.
On to Glasgow and first job was the usual paper review, gauging what was being said about the gig. Absolute silence in Metro, but The Evening Times had a short paragraph, albeit cut and pasted from an out-of-date press release. "Cult indie rock veterans armed with eleven albums of tongue in cheek Northern wit and high energy melodic folk-punk." The band is still stuck on eleven albums, then.
It was Propaganda club night at the ABC, so everything was happening slightly earlier than usual. Generally you would expect HMHB to take to the stage at around 9.00, but tonight they were on at 8.15, with Sonnenberg going on first at 7.30. Sonnenberg were operating tonight as a two-piece. "We are the calming influence on the Probe Plus label," announced Zinney (I think that's the vocalist's name). I must say I haven't seen too many bands make use of a rug and Nivea Fine Talc. But that's what you get with Sonnenberg. I recognised The End Of The Rain from the album of the same name. It would have been nice to hear Sweet Life as well. Maybe next time.
So who came the furthest to be there tonight? Howie may have taken some beating, flying in from Berlin in the afternoon. He had been tempted to wear his Chester shirt, in anticipation of his spot in the away end at Prenton Park on the Saturday afternoon (Nigel said his grandson was going to be the mascot at this game). We also caught up with Paul who had taken the train from Edinburgh. John, the King Of Hi Vis was there. Except tonight he wasn't the King Of Hi Vis, having been told to remove the offending jacket by gig security. Health And Safety gone insane if you ask me. Lee and Jay also said Hello.
None of us were sure of the HMHB walk-on music. Howie was closest with his stab at the theme music to Ask The Family. But Nigel advised us that it was the theme tune to Screen Test. Not something I had heard for perhaps thirty-five or forty years. It's funny how these things slip your memory. Nigel said the actual title was something like "Marching Up And Down" by Syd Dale, with Syd spelt with a "y", unlike with his mate Sid Roberts, spelt with an "i" who had suffered "id" theft. OK, maybe you had to be there to understand that.
"This was written by Clive Swift" announced Nigel before the opening song, A Lilac Harry Quinn. He was thrown a pencil rubber with a White Star Line emblem on it, leading to a story about Frederick Fleet, the lookout on The Titanic. He had lived into old age, which in turn provided a nice segway into Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride.
Nigel's shirt was noted. Checks, verging on tartan, perhaps. Later on during the gig he told the joke about having a chameleon that died of exhaustion because he had a tartan carpet.
Early on in the show, Nigel noted that he was having a problem with the monitors at his feet. No sound was coming out of them. "Perhaps it's something that I've done," he said to the engineer. "The monitors are always shite!" came a helpful shout from the crowd. All was soon put right. Nigel told us the one about a bloke having a peanut stuck in his ear. He poured some melted chocolate down his ear, and a few days later it come out a Treat.
He shared some thoughts on service stations en route. "Tebay is over-hyped." He commented about how there are too many ducks there, and they won't leave you alone. "It's Southwaite for us from now on." Kendal was suggested as a stop-off, but Nigel replied that the band was not usually ready for a break when they reached there. In addition to seeing the aforementioned Clive Swift there, Nigel added "You'll never guess who we saw there." He was right, nobody guessed. It was his old mate from school, Ian Bailey. (Regardless of what he thought about the services, Nigel had picked up a handful of leaflets from somewhere. "Rum Stories. The Dark Story Of Whitehaven", "Moffat Mill - Shopping For All", "Soldiers In Sillot" and "Discover Kirkcudbright".)
During the line in When The Evening Sun Goes Down about "experimental side projects", Nigel pointed in Ken's direction. Joy In Leeuwarden was written by two people at a service station in the Dutch town of Deventer. Following the deluge of shouts of "What did God give us, Neil?" at Sheffield, there was just one tonight. A tribute to the Rotherham Postie perhaps. I also heard shouts for This One's For Now, and for "Westminster".
Nigel opened a packet of crisps and was asked for one. But he didn't want to throw any to the mosh pit for fear of accusations of littering. After Look Dad No Tunes he explained "I used to be in that band. We were called Hinterland." He spotted Rab Smith ("the most underrated darts player") in the crowd.
Nigel was asked if he had been following the Tour Of Britain cycling race. He said "No", but had been following the Vuelta Espana. He confessed to being a bike snob, and felt that the Tour Of Britain was more just for Wiggins fans. There was a bit of a stumble during Dukla Prague. He improvised a bit after the line about the £3.10 transformer, explaining that that was back in the days when Michael Rodd chaired Screen Test. But then he temporarily lost his way, muttering "How many years have I been singing this one?" before getting it back together. Ken and Neil swapped instruments for The Bane Of Constance (and in the encore for Twenty-Seven Yards Of Dental Floss).
A request for Twenty-Four Hour Party People was successful. The guy at the counter had a Guy Martin coaster and an I Heart TT t-shirt. The metal tray device is called a Plympton, which resulted in a cheer from someone from nearby that town. "Which services did you stop at?" asked Nigel. "We're fans of Southwaite." The crisps were £2.13, and as usual there was a lack of pleasantry. No "Cheers Mate", or "Would You Like An A To Z Of Peterhead?" As the tension increases, the IPad and the Word Search are slammed down on the counter. Nigel notices that two of the answers on the Word Search are "Close Friends" and "Few And Far Between". The queue starts to include all his mates including Lost Oliver, whose nickname is ironic. In fact, he never gets lost because he collects A to Zs.
For the second gig on the trot, Ken was wearing a baseball cap. And for the second gig on the trot, there was no cover version. Coincidence?A Lilac Harry Quinn
And three in the encoreTwenty-Seven Yards Of Dental Floss
The mosh pit only really got going in the second half of the gig. Everything seemed a little sedate at times. Maybe it was the relatively early finish. But there was still plenty for Howie, Paul, Tony, Karen and I to talk about afterwards in the Pot Still, particularly when the fire alarm went off and we were all kicked out. Less than five weeks before we all do it again in London. Except maybe without the fire alarm.