Picturedrome, Holmfirth, Fri 21st Jun 2019 (23/6/19)

Roger Green:

A whole week passed by from the Edinburgh show to this one. Not much to report in the meantime.

I've been reading Michael King's History Of New Zealand. My mind was diverted in the direction of HMHB when he mentioned Polynesians sailing from a place he wrote as Hawai'i. That's not how everyone would spell it, of course. Further investigation revealed that the author was making use of the okina, "a mark common to languages of the South Seas, and indicates a glottal stop between two vowel sounds". The thought of ringing up every single Pizza outlet sprang to mind. "You need an okina, mate." However even more research revealed that "Hawaiian" is actually an anglicised word, so maybe no correction is required. (And actually, it was Karen who did the research.)

The only note from the week since Edinburgh related to the Women's football World Cup. I noted a complete lack of intrigue in the pool games. It all seemed very straightforward really. The same applied to our journey to Holmfirth. I don't usually come to these things by car, except when we travel here. Today I was onto the A638 and into Wakefield where I met Karen when she got off her train at Kirkgate station. We had a drink at the excellent caf there. The key ingredient was a "Colombian guest coffee", which may explain why we both perked up for the drive on the A636 to Holmfirth. Isn't that what really made the country famous?

Our first port of call, as usual, was the Daisy Lane Bookshop. Bargains galore. I picked up a book following Geoff Boycott's career playing cricket for Yorkshire. Also, a "Limited Edition Collector's Special" of Q. The 100 Best Record Covers Of All Time. This is a collection rather than a chart rundown. And we noticed the publication date was 2001. The likes of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Never Mind were in there. But so was This Leaden Pall. The blurb featured quite a few quotes from Nigel, describing it as "an uncomplicated process" and saying that "anything clever's been stolen". I noted that the photograph of the lamppost was taken by Gareth, who used to always do the sound at HMHB gigs. I wonder what he's up to, these days.

Another regular point of call here is Hollowgate Fisheries. It's positioned right by the river. We watched a mink hassling a mallard who was shepherding her ducklings to safety. Just like an episode of Springwatch right in front of our eyes!

Top work from Karen on booking a quality room at The Old Bridge, next to the venue (seemingly now part of the Coaching Inn Group). We spent time in the bar reviewing the papers. There was a Daily Mirror left on the table. Nothing in there. It was the same with The Yorkshire Post and their The Guide pull-out. Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel, appearing at The Picturedrome the following evening, made it into the listings, but there was no sign of HMHB. The Huddersfield Daily Examiner and the freebie Holme Valley Review were both silent on the subject. All of which left it to Metro to go to the top of the league. The Local Top Ten, compiled by Abi Bliss, featured these fine words. "The Birkenhead indie rockers are one of Britain's biggest cult bands, thanks to singer Nigel Blackwell's lyrics, a rabbit hole of kitchen-sink surrealism and sardonic Scouse wit."

Looking out from our balcony, yes balcony, we looked down onto the masses seated around and about on benches outside the hotel. We gave the regal wave to John, Andrew, Ian and Mariana. Later we joined the masses. By now the band had arrived. Had a chat with Nigel and Postman Tony. I didn't have an awful lot to contribute to their conversation about Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa though. I handed Nigel a copy of The Fortunes Of Nigel by Sir Walter Scott which had been included in our shopping at Daisy Lane earlier.

Others hanging around were Zinney, Denise, Nigel/Exford and Belfast Ian, chatting about this, that and the other. As you do. While there, we had the pleasure of listening to HMHB's soundcheck. Sometimes you can sneak inside the venue for this, but today it was strictly behind closed doors. Three songs were played. When The Evening Sun Goes Down, Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis and Bad Review. Only one of the three made it through the qualification stage to the actual set.

After this, we returned to our room with the splendid vista, to get changed into our gig togs. I went for the motorway junction number. Karen opted for The Webb. We then joined the queue back at The Picturedrome. Phil from Portsmouth said Hello, wearing his Shatner tshirt which he had bought at the show in York earlier in the year.

Huddersfield Graham and Sarah were at the head of the queue. And Tony, Matt and Andrew stood with us as we waited for the doors to open. On schedule at 7.30, we were inside, with wristbands in place. Makes you feel like you are at a proper show. Miles was in charge of merchandise, and it was nice to see Geoff at a gig again. He told me that Andy Kershaw would be turning up later. I didn't see him down at the front, but there were positive sightings at Piccolino's restaurant across the road.

Nigel and Jo had made the journey from Goole. Jo was complete with her arm in a sling. Broken wrist following a slip on a laminated floor. Get well soon. Drinks were being served in plastic mugs, that also had a compartment in the handle, presumably for your chaser. You paid a quid deposit, which encourages their return. At the end of these nights, you often have to negotiate your way round and over broken plastic glasses. But not here. A sign of the times, and an idea that other places will pick up on?

Belfast Ian had made a swift return across the Irish Sea. We discussed the merits of HMHB playing in Ireland. But with the best will in the world, it's not going to happen, is it? I had a quick catch-up with Katherine and Karl, just as Sonnenberg struck up.

A couple of months back at Newcastle, Zinney had played solo when supporting HMHB. Tonight Saul was with him, seated with his tabla. Zinney said "We are proud to be labelmates of Half Man Half Biscuit," but declared that "we are the soft spot of the label. That's us. Deal with it." Sonnenberg did a few songs from their latest CD. Sorry, these have not been committed to memory as well as they might have been so I can't just rattle off the titles. In there, there was also a cover of a song (White Bird) by a band called It's A Beautiful Day. That was certainly a new one to me. They finished with Better Together, summing up their thoughts on Brexit. Zinney is moving back to Germany in the next few weeks. That's a loss for all of us.

HMHB entered the stage to the theme from Curb Your Enthusiasm. Thanks to Tony's Shazam for identifying that. Nigel's first comment was "Cracking cheese, Wensleydale." Even though he was standing right in front of me, I couldn't identify what Karl's tshirt was all about. It seemed to be in the name of a group of garden centres, but with a load of band names on the back. Never mind, there are more important things in life. Carl was wearing his old favourite, the 3743BMTS one. And Neil was wearing a Richenbacher bass guitar tshirt. My knowledge of instrumentation is pretty much zero, so I couldn't tell you whether or not this is the brand of his bass.

"Anyone here from Huddersfield?" asked Nigel. "You don't get a medal," he added to a number of cheers. "It's only six miles up the road." There was a laugh in the crowd that reminded him of someone. Ken Goodwin was suggested. "No it's not him," he replied. "It'll do my head in if I'm thinking about that all night. It's definitely not Ken Goodwin. His laugh was deeper than that."

There was a shout to say that the sound was very quiet. (Judging from conversations after the show, I know that I was not alone in thinking that the sound was actually quite "muddy".) Nigel replied that people should just "You Tube it later" if anyone wants to catch up with anything that they missed. He also made a recommendation to go on to You Tube to look up a band from Salt Lake City called Angle, doing their song Old People Are Following Me. He also said that people could have stayed at home to watch The Birds on TCM. Tony asked him if he meant The Byrds, to which Nigel replied "You're not supposed to be here. Are you a hologram?" referring to Tony's imminent trip to Italy.

After Renfield's Afoot, Nigel said "True story, that."

Nigel asked what was the name of the river going through Holmfirth (within a few yards of the venue). The answer was The Holme, being a tributary to Calder, and thus the Aire. Nigel said he could remember that the Aire runs through to Leeds, referring back to the time when he saw The Birthday Party there, supported by The March Violets. There was a board at the railway station advertising Radio Aire, and he made the connection from that. The closing line in Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes was that was when Nigel was saying it's a tributary to the Calder.

I couldn't work out the reason for Nigel saying "Ubik: Use only as directed." He also asked if anyone knew his mate Gary Aspinall. But then he realised that Gary had moved to Upper Thong, near Nether Thong. Nigel also mentioned Hebden Bridge. "I went there once. It was shut."

Even my note-taking got a mention. Nigel mimicked writing down "After the second song, he flung his jacket to the back of the stage." Well, if that's what he does, then I'll write it down. He also said something about it after Swerving The Checkatrade. I missed what he said. That shows how good I am at this.

After Bane Of Constance and the Midge Ure / Ultravox reference, Nigel said he quite liked their John Foxx period. Neil butted in with "...And now in total contrast...", with When The Evening Sun Goes Down following that song. At the same time Nigel repeated an old joke, addressing a particular individual. "What does DNA stand for? The National Association Of Dyslexics. Take that back to Halifax." On the subject of Yorkshire towns, Nigel asked for clarification about the pronunciation of Slaithwaite. "Sloughit," came the collective reply. I'm sure that's not how a grammarian would write it. Maybe you should just ask someone from there.

Marilyn Monroe was on the scag again in 99 Per Cent Of Gargoyles. Nigel said "This is about people every night" ahead of Knobheads On Quiz Shows. Karen and I particularly took note when he mentioned Butterscotch Majestics being available in Iceland. The day after the gig, we were in their shop in The Merrion Centre in Leeds. We bought a pack of four for 1.50 and scoffed them immediately. Thanks for the recommendation, Nigel.

During National Shite Day, Belfast Ian tapped me on the shoulder to tell me that when he landed at Manchester Airport, the tram service had been replaced. Proof yet again, that life imitates art. On the line about bracing the margin, Nigel added "Like I do. Like you do," before gesturing towards Neil and suggesting that he doesn't.

There was some film talk, complimenting the soundtracks of Belleville Rendezvous, A Clockwork Orange and Aguirre: The Wrath Of God. "This is about our rehearsal room," said Nigel ahead of Left Lyrics Of Practice Room. And there was a chant from the audience (well, it was one person actually) of "Neil Crossley is a bass guitar genius."

There was also some wasp talk. There was one in the hall earlier. Nigel moved the conversation over to bees, and pointed to Neil. "He got stung by a bee the other week. Paid 22 for a jar of honey in Sainsburys."

Nigel did some guitar miming during Time Flies By and at one point was seen to be admiring some nifty leg work from Neil. I wrote down "In My Wee Kilmarnock Bonnet" for some reason. I think Nigel referred to it in answer to a mis-heard shout about Kilmarnock. Nigel extended his repertoire to doing bird impressions. He had an admirable effort at a wood pigeon.

Sports mimes were at a minimum. We had a bit of tennis and table-tennis, as well as a spot of bowling (the cricketing version). And Nigel did the thing where he walks on his knees. Pushing his body to the limit. That involved working most of the stage, including going up the stairs at the side of it. There was a timely shout of "Why don't you do a cover version?" immediately before they played The Clash's Complete Control.

I reckon that the songs were as follows:

Westward Ho! Massive Letdown
Renfield's Afoot
Bob Wilson Anchorman
Joy In Leeuwarden (We Are Ready)
Monmore Hare's Running
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes
What Made Colombia Famous
Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus
Swerving The Checkatrade
The Bane Of Constance
When The Evening Sun Goes Down
Ninety-Nine Per Cent Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd
Knobheads On Quiz Shows
National Shite Day
Left Lyrics In Practice Room
Mileage Chart
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train
Harsh Times In Umberstone Covert
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
Vatican Broadside
We Built This Village On A Trad Arr Tune
The Trumpton Riots
Joy Division Oven Gloves
Everything's AOR

And in the encore:

Time Flies By When You're A Driver Of A Train
Complete Control
Every Time A Bell Rings

Thanks to Karl for handing over his set list. We noted that Ode To Joyce was originally included on there, but was not played. And Vatican Broadside's appearance was unscheduled.

Afterwards a few of us gathered in the bar at The Old Bridge. Howie and Daz were on their way for the last bus back to Huddersfield. The rest of us squeezed in a couple of beers before the 11.30 closing time. Karen, Tony, Postman Tony and I discussed the evening's goings-on. John joined our group after Graham and Sarah left. Pretty much the same group of us gathered at breakfast, when I also exchanged a brief Hello with Andy. Later, we gave Postman Tony a lift into Huddersfield so that he could get his train back to Manchester. And we headed out of town on the M62 in the general direction of a show featuring Jeffrey Lewis and Crumbs in Leeds later on. Jeffrey is back on form, and featured a fine version of Shellac's Prayer To God. Now there's a song to go in HMHB's Covers For Consideration file? We got talking to a guy on the bus back into the city after the show. Apologies for not getting his name. But with spending his time at the same two events as us over the weekend, he is clearly a man of taste.