Buttermarket, Shrewsbury, Fri 10th Dec 2021 (12/12/21)

Roger Green:

Still catching up here with lockdown stuff. Bear with me. Another link in the HMHB chain was completed when Albert Hammond was seen on the Now 70s TV channel. He was singing It Never Rains In Southern California. I had heard him on the radio before, but this was the first time I had seen him, as it were, in the flesh. Although it was from the best part of half a century ago. There was no sign of Stanley Rous in the crowd. He must have got the bootleg some other time.

I was told about Stevie Nicks' seventy-second birthday. I wonder if she has still got that pile of books, as mentioned in Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus? Colin Murray appeared on an episode of Countdown. I don't think they had been able to record editions of the programme, so they had to replay shows from way back when. At one point, Colin was unable to improve on the word score of the two contestants. He admitted, "I was in the boondocks with that one." Borrowing a line from Depressed Beyond Tablets, perhaps?

Idling her way through the independent charts of January 1986 Karen noted that that was when HMHB's Back In The DHSS dislodged The Dead Kennedys' Frankenchrist from the top spot. Ee, them were the days.

I heard a jingle on Absolute 80s where the announcer said that the station was keeping two chevrons apart during the lockdown. Aye, OK.

When wandering around the TV channels, I was hooked by a programme on the Smithsonian Channel, called Mystic Britain. Here, Clive Anderson wandered around the Rollright Stones. So that's what they look like. Very interesting, but there was no word as to whether or not he found his shed on fire when he got home.

Eno Collaboration news came when Emily Cross from the band Loma appeared on Cerys Matthews' show on 6 Music. Emily has collaborated. Nothing more. Nothing less. I saw an article about Stroud, as mentioned in Bad Review. It has been named "the best place to live in the UK as experts praised its 'glorious green space' and 'impressive local food scene'. Geoff Dreadnought still needs to stay away though.

Pauline Vallance has posted several songs on the web. Cover versions, just her voice and her harp. Joy Division Oven Gloves is part of her collection. To the tune of William Tell. Interesting concept, and her version of Jilted John is worth a look. The cover of Joy Division Oven Gloves was aided, abetted and facilitated by Atilla The Stockbroker, by all accounts. Frank Worthington's death prompted the appearance of his question and answer session for Shoot! Magazine. Frank put one of his Likes as "browsing hardware stores". Spotted at some point when HMHB were putting Our Tune together?

Radio Four's early morning Tweet Of The Day featured Sir David Attenborough talking about the sanderling. I've also heard the linnet featured on that slot. And I'm sure there will be a lark descending, sooner or later.

On the Monday after the Frome gig, one of the contestants on Mastermind chose Sylvia Plath as her specialist subject. No questions on Matlock Bath though.

Everything was OK with the first half of our journey to Shrewsbury. The bus into Wakefield was a touch tardy but there was still time for a Greggs chocolate doughnut from their shop at Westgate station before getting the train to Birmingham New Street (calling at Sheffield, Chesterfield and Derby). All was well up to the point where we arrived at New Street and checked out the screens for the connection to Shrewsbury. Train cancelled. There had been "an incident" at Sandwell And Dudley. We were reminded of the final lines in The Coroner's Footnote when we found out the reason. A swift change of plans led us to take a train to Wolverhampton, change there and get the next one to Shrewsbury (via Bilbrook, Codsall, Albrighton, Cosford, Shifnal, Telford Central, Oakengates and Wellington).

Big ups to Andrew who had arrived at New Street just before us. He helped us with sorting out the alternative route. Andrew also told us that his uncle had done his wartime army training in Shrewsbury. My mate Richard used to live there. And John Peel went to school there. All of that is about as much as I know about Shrewsbury. Grand town though, by the looks of it. With a bit more time, we would have had a look at the castle. Instead we got some grub for tea, and had a chat with John who was going out for some pre-gig socialising.

Thanks to Karen for the paper review. Both The Shropshire Star (which carried articles about gigs by Madness and The Australian Pink Floyd) and The Shrewsbury Chronicle were silent about HMHB's gig. That is fairly standard coverage of these shows.

When venue doors open at 7.00, we are generally queuing outside at 6.30. This was the case tonight. Tony, Phill, Andrew and one or two others had the same plan. But with it being our first visit to this place, we could not be sure that we were at the right door. Would we still be there looking at our watches at 7.15, wondering why it was so quiet? Well, no, we got it right. The door was opened and in we went. I had a chat with Miles at the merch stall, including speculation about new HMHB product. It's hard to put an exact date on it, and the best stab is to say it will be released somewhere in the first half of 2022.

Folk were starting to mill around, including Chris and Ian from Cardiff. Thanks to them for the kind comments. It's always good to know that someone actually reads these things. I then got talking to another Ian, the one also known as The Humdrum Express. He was there with his mate. There is new material available and I wonder if HMHB might be able to let him have a support billing in the not too distant?

For the second time on the bounce, West Wickhams had the privilege tonight. A duo featuring guitar/vocals and keyboard/drum machine. Nice co-ordination with the polka dot shirt and the pattern on the guitar. Their set list was on display on the stage floor before they appeared. I made a note.

Every Move
Kick
Creatures
Death
Goathland
Nothings
He's Acquired

We'll be catching them again in Leeds in March at a Carpe Noctum evening. If not before then. Not sure who is lined up with HMHB in the new year.

More Hellos were extended and exchanged with the usual posse, John, Andy, Brian (with another report of a nightmare train journey), Postman Tony (who pointed out that The Buttermarket was directly next door to the Sorting Office), Graham, Paul, Andy, Nigel/Charles, Graham Le Taxi and one or two others on nodding terms but I'm afraid I have forgotten names or I have never known them in the first place. And there was George who ended up with The Bollocking Of The Evening award after making it as far as the edge of the stage with his enthusiastic moves. Some particularly athletic manoeuvres from the security staff in that incident, according to witnesses.

I didn't take note of all of the music coming out of the PA, but heard Pulp, REM, Franz Ferdinand and Elbow. I thought you'd be interested to know. You know that the band is due on stage when Howie turns up with Daz. And soon enough, the walk-on track Comin' Down by The View was played, and the band appeared.

Nigel had forgotten to pack his new guitar, so instead it was his old one with him tonight. Although the caravan one came out for the encore. "Good evening. Nice and cold out there," he said, before the band struck up with She's In Broadstairs. No mention of the big screen behind the band, although Nigel did note the digital reader which was directly in his eye-line. Karl suggested that it was measuring decibels and sought to prove this by tuning up. A note on tonight's dress policy. Nigel was in his Ubik t-shirt, not seen in public for a while. Karl was in a Crapsons number which made me wonder when they also might be the support at one of these evenings. Neil and Carl were in plain tops. Carl kept picking up his reading glasses when referring to his set list. He should try reading my notes.

Nigel spotted Heike Drechsler in the crowd. And later on he saw Ellen McArthur. Forever linked to the words "From landlocked Derbyshire." Apparently, Bob Wilson Anchorman was written by William Morris. On the batwalk, recommendations were a torch, a waterproof jacket and "even some chestnuts".

"Anyone here from Kilmarnock?" asked Nigel. No answer. In Petty Sessions we were invited to sing Hymn Number 242, being slightly different to the recorded version. "That's one of ours. Uncanny," Nigel answered to a request. In reply to a shout for M6ster, we got the opening "K-R-O-K-U-S" line, and a promise that they would learn the song again. And they will also rehearse The Len Ganley Stance for next time. During a spot of tuning up, the opening bars of Pretty Vacant were played. "This is one we wrote in the van on the way down," said Nigel before Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus.

Nigel/Exford engaged Nigel in a conversation about the Wurlitzer organ which was on display. "If we'd thought on, then we would have booked it," explained Nigel. I'll probably get this wrong but I think it was said that the Wurlitzer was invented by a guy called Robert Hope Jones, who used to live close to where Nigel now lives. And Jones's brother invented the time signal. "Robert Hope Jones And His Brother," pondered Nigel, "That would be a good name for a band."

After more larking around while tuning up, Nigel suggested "It's like The Grumbleweeds, isn't it? But without the fun." And he did the old trick during Lark Descending where he sticks his plectrum to his forehead. "What did this place used to be, by the way?" he asked. "A butter market" was the collective reply to that one. "This is about our bicycles," he announced, ahead of A Lilac Harry Quinn. (During this song, I noticed that Nigel's guitar lead is lilac. Someone out there will be interested in that.)

There was talk about football chants. I was mid-conversation with Tony at the time, so thanks to Andrew and Karen for filling in the gaps here. There was a chorus of "We love Carl Henry, we do" etc etc with the final line of "Oh, Carl Henry, we love you." I'm sure you know the tune. Nigel's response was "Very good. But it would have been better without the "Oh" at the beginning of the last line. It annoys him when fans do that. He wondered why they don't just leave it out just sing "United we love you." All it needs is for the hardest lad in, for example. The Stretford End, to go round correcting everyone. Nigel has sent emails

The last line in Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes was "That's when I first said that Hedgehog flavoured crisps just won't work." He suggested that crisp manufacturers had been trying too hard and that maybe they should stick to the more traditional stuff. And there was a Happy Birthday greeting to Steve in the crowd who was heading to Spennymoor the following day. Ever the pop star, Nigel stopped to tie his shoelace after National Shite Day. He then berated situation comedies where characters are seen rushing around with a piece of toast. "I've never done that. Why don't they just get up half an hour earlier and sit down and have the toast with a cup of tea?"

Nigel related the tale from Durham where the band were having a meal. He chose squid and was half way through his food when Neil asked "You don't have any allergies, do you?" (Eating squid makes your head grow large, folks. Confirmed by John the retired GP.) This tale had stemmed from a request from someone whose brother, by the name of Fraser, had an octopus tattoo. She wanted the band to play "the one with Squid Yes, Not So Octopus". Nigel's initial response was "Just tell him that we played it." But the reply came back that Fraser was actually in the crowd. So Nigel said that if he was a real man, Fraser would get up on stage and show everyone the octopus tattoo.

After Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis, Nigel mentioned that his favourite tennis player was always Wojciech Fibak, mainly because his surname sounded like "feedback". Well, that's as good a reason as any for liking someone. Someone shouted out, possibly, Daniil Medvedev. And John shouted Vijay Amritraj who became an actor after finishing with the tennis. He appeared in a James Bond film. Nigel stated that he has never flown in a plane and has never seen a Bond all the way through.

Nigel spoke about inappropriate Christmas presents. He said he had bought his Nan some CD or other. Sorry, didn't catch the title. His timing was just right, taking a snort of his nasal inhaler in the middle of What Made Colombia Famous. He said "In the spirit of things..." as an introduction to It's Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas, just as Carl hung a bauble at the front of his drum kit. The replacement lyric at the end of the song may have been "I saw Kate Bush with the ICF at Mile End tube in the morning".

When the band came back for the encore, there was chanting of "Get Your Fuckin' Hedge Cut", so it was appropriate that Every Time A Bell Rings was played. And at the very end of the show, Nigel's farewell was "Have a good weekend. Weatherwise or otherwise". This is how the evening went, according to my notes

She's In Broadstairs
Running Order Squabble Fest
Bob Wilson - Anchorman
Renfield's Afoot
Terminus
Petty Sessions
Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess
Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus
Vatican Broadside
Lark Descending
When The Evening Sun Goes Down
A Lilac Harry Quinn
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes
Look Dad No Tunes
Ninety-Nine Per Cent Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd
National Shite Day
I'm Getting Buried In The Morning
Harsh Times In Umberstone Covert
Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
Black Night / What Made Colombia Famous
Surging Out Of Convalescence
It's Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas
The Trumpton Riots
Joy Division Oven Gloves

And these were in the encore

Every Time A Bell Rings
Shot By Both Sides
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train

Thanks to Karl for the written set list possibly in his own handwriting, it certainly wasn't in Nigel's. "Harry Quinn" was originally going to be played second, after She's In Broadstairs. But a change of mind put it further down the list. And "Paintball" was crossed out and replaced by "Buried".

And that was it for the evening. And for the year. Only three gigs in 2021 and it was good to see the band back in the groove and showing this kind of form. It wasn't the easiest of places to get out of. We had to make our way through a club night which was happening downstairs. We got outside eventually, compared notes with a few others who had similarly managed to negotiate their exit. And from there, we were back to the Premier Inn. There was still train disruption on the Saturday morning so we were off and away as soon as poss. We saw Postman Tony and Brian, who had the same idea. And Andrew had gone before sun-up. Only a few weeks to the Manchester show at the end of January. It didn't feel as bad as the situation at Bristol in March 2020, but it was clear that the virus was not going away any time soon.

I lifted this from the BBC site where they had questions and answers about how things were evolving at the time of this show in Shrewsbury. All sounds a bit ominous, unwieldy and possibly not all that easy to manage

The dummy question was asked. "I'm going to a music venue with a bar and a capacity of about 200 people. Do audience members need to wear masks?"

Part of the answer was "Concert Halls are included in new rules for England which mean visitors to most public indoor venues must wear a face covering. So, audience members at a gig need to wear masks. As do staff... Proof of your Covid status via the NHS Covid Pass or proof of a negative Covid test will be required at some venues from 15 December... Unseated indoor events with more than 500 people are included, but a gig for about 200 people would not be. You could double-check how many people are going by checking with the venue."