The Adrian Flux Waterfront, Norwich, Fri 11th November 2022 (13/11/22)

Roger Green:

The Sunday evening after the Blackpool gig, Karen and I were out walking. As it goes, we began to speculate about the walk-on music for this gig. Surely it would be the theme to The Sale Of The Century - the quiz of the week, live from Norwich? Or would that be too obvious? And then of course there was the cover version to be considered. What music came out of Norfolk? We pondered over The Higsons and Serious Drinking. And there was The Singing Postman. Would Nigel be having a go at Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?

I have mentioned before in the reviews about the days of paying on the door at The Duchess in Leeds. That's in the past. I think I might start a regular "Book Early" feature in the reviews - reminding folk of gigs which are in the diary at the particular point in time. Karen and I have a general policy when gigs are announced. She gets the tickets, I get the hotel. I know folk don't always have the dough up-front, but an increasing number of these shows are selling out. Best advice is to have your finger on the trigger. People were missing out on tonight's gig, and next year's show in London also appears to have gone. So, as Fred Pontin would have put it, "Book Early!" And/or look out for returns. Including the two sell-outs, there are five more shows currently in the diary. There is Hull (16 December 2022), London (20 January 2023), Leamington Spa (17 March 2023) and Edinburgh (19 May). As I write this on the day of the Norwich show, my understanding is that the most recent announcement (Stowmarket on 14 April) is already halfway to selling out. The only other solution seems to be for the band to start playing bigger places. Barrowlands here we come?

Karen and I caught up with Nigel's guest appearance on New Brighton Radio's Outta Limits. It was interesting to hear the approach to sweary words. The "F" word was swerved when the Hedge Cut album was referenced, but there was no problem with playing Renfield's Afoot all the way through. And "National Something Day" was mentioned. Oh yes, and Nigel had a squeaky chair throughout. A valid question was raised. When bands play in pubs, often it will mean that access to the dartboard is blocked off. Is this an infringement of your civil rights? And he also asked something that he hasn't mentioned for a while. "Which is the only Football League club which does not have any letters that you can colour in?" He's asked this out loud at gigs previously. If you don't know the answer, have a think, and I'll tell you later.

Tranmere old boy Pat Nevin appeared in Dictionary Corner for a handful of editions of Countdown. Supposedly he appreciates the works of HMHB. This might explain his proposal of "mosher" as a six-letter word. But Susie knocked him back! Surely if a word appears in the HMHB lexicon, then that should give it a certain legitimacy?

In March 2020, our last gig before the pandemic closed everything down was Pete Wylie at Selby Town Hall. I remember we came away from that evening wondering where our next live music would be coming from. It was a while. There have been many shows since, including HMHB of course, but things finally felt that they had come full circle when we saw Pete once again. He played at The Brudenell in Leeds with the latest incarnation of The Mighty Wah. Still, and always, mighty.

Our jaws dropped slightly when "Half Man Half Biscuit" appeared as the answer to the What Comes Fourth In The Sequence round on an edition of Only Connect. This was also picked up by Radcliffe And Maconie on their show on 6 Music. Victoria Coren-Mitchell to be added to the list of folk spotted in the audience some time?

Hats off to Andy who shared on Facebook that he was waiting for the train at Glasgow Station at 6.30am. And Steve also announced his early arrival in Norwich on social media. Our journey began with a taxi to Wakefield Westgate station. We got the train to Peterborough where we caught a connection to Norwich via Ely and Thetford. The flatlands of Norfolk don't always provide a spectacular view, but you can't have everything. We were there soon enough, having smashed the Metro Quick Crossword (very slowly) while travelling.

The first Biscuiteer sighting of the day was John and Elizabeth, who, like us, had been wanting to check out the venue location. We speculated over the possibility of future gigs before we went our different ways. Later on we encountered Reg from Swindon, who had travelled ticketless from Swindon, and was hoping to get hold of a returned ticket if any were forthcoming. There's optimism for you. His back-up plan was to go and see From The Jam. Hope he was successful one way or the other.

Lunch was taken at The Butterfly Cafe. Bit late in the day for a full English breakfast? Never! Quality stuff. Karen tucked into pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. We'll be back there next time HMHB are in town.

Bad news with the paper review. Neither the Norwich Evening News nor the Eastern Daily Press contained a peep about the gig. A lot of the same articles appeared in both papers, so no surprise that neither had a mention.

The doors were due to open at 6.30 so Karen, Tony and I made haste to the front of the queue. But we were too late for that. Nevertheless, we made good conversation with the folk around us, including one chap who was there with a Tygers Of Pan Tang ticket in hand. Definitely the same night, and the same venue. Surely not a double booking? Or would it be a HMHB/TOPT mash-up? No such luck. Seemingly there are two rooms at this place. But Tygers had cancelled their show. Fortunately, the guy with the ticket was allowed in to see HMHB. I saw him loitering in the middle of the hall. Hope he enjoyed it.

Hearty round of applause and standing ovation for Tony with this being his 100th HMHB gig. A good mate and trusty technical adviser for these scribblings.

First job as ever was a catch-up with Miles on the merch stall. No new goods on offer for now but hopefully plenty would be going off the shelf at this full-house gig.

There are not many of these shows where you go without a support band. That was the case tonight. So there was a long gap before HMHB hit the stage at eight o'clock. That was filled with some excellent tunes from the PA. All hail whoever put that collection together. I resisted the temptation to do some very bad Richard Jobson dancing when Into The Valley was played right at the start of the evening. Following that I heard Hurry Up Harry, Joy Division Oven Gloves, Punk Is Dead, I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Check Out Desk, Personality Crisis, Dead Cities, Ca Plane Pour Moi, and an orchestral version of Pretty Vacant.

The legion started to appear. Graham and Sarah. Phil, Andrew, Graham Le Taxi, Postman Tony (wearing the t-shirt of the day, featuring Chicory Tip), John, Steve, Howie, Daz and Chris. The long distance travelling award went to Sean and Heather who were over from the United States for a HMHB/Norwich City double-header. Apologies, as ever, there are other folk who say Hello, but I don't remember their names. Not seen Gomez for a while. It was good to get a tap on the shoulder from him.

On the day of this gig, the news broke that Nik Turner had died. He was one of the mainstays of Hawkwind. HMHB entered the stage to their tune Master Of The Universe. Karl was wearing a Hawkwind t-shirt. Tribute was paid. Carl was in plain black, Neil was wearing an Abba Voyage t-shirt while Nigel had his Ubik garment, as seen oft before.

"Shall we do that one we said?" Nigel asked the others, before they opened the set with The Light At The Of The Tunnel. "Are you OK for bags?" he asked someone out in the moshpit. And then he considered the weather. "It's not getting any colder, is it? I want it to be cold and frosty at this time of year." Nigel regretted that he has no control over the weather.

Courtney Love was spotted in the crowd. "Any time this year with that air-fryer..."

Some notes from Renfield's Afoot... Booking was "recommended" rather than "essential". And "on this occasion, sadly, no dogs." At the beginning of Awkward Sean, Neil recited a monologue/poem (possibly related to the First World War - with this being Armistice Day), but half way through said "I've forgotten the rest."

When introducing I'm Getting Buried In The Morning, Nigel said "This is about the angst of a bereaved mind." Then he corrected himself. "No, it isn't. That was a side project."

There was a shout of "Do the one about Swaffham!" Nigel explained that the song in question is not really about Swaffham. Rather it is a product of reading maps in the bath. After that clarification, we had some discussions about the pronunciation of a variety of towns. Happisburgh is one he knew. Its appearance in the works of MR James has led Nigel to know the correct way to say it. Poor Miles at the merch stall thinks it is pronounced "Happisburg". Imagine thinking that. Diss, Uttoxeter and Wymondham were examined in a similar way.

Nigel pulled out a bag of crisps. "Are they Walkers?" he was asked. "No, they stay in the packet," he replied. And he reminded us that his Mum used to do the cleaning for Nerys Hughes's Mum. Over time Nigel has revised his views on Nerys. And he was impressed with the layout improvements on the A14.

As on previous occasions, in the course of Ninety-Nine Per Cent Of Gargoyles we were told that Marilyn Monroe was on the scag. And this song was "another true story". The next celebrity spot in the crowd was "Ben Fogel, ladies and gentlemen."

Nigel gave what I took to be a snidy little smile during When I Look At My Baby. Deep Purple's Black Night was the prelude to What Made Colombia Famous. And a rather large chunk of Dean Martin's Little Ole Wine Drinker Me was segued with Sealclubbing. A regular feature of these shows happened when Nigel stuck his plectrum to his forehead for the "job on the bins" bit in Lark Descending.

After Vatican Broadside, Nigel confessed to quite liking Slipknot really. At the end of Evening Of Swing, Tony said that that was the first song at the reception when his son got married in Sorrento. Nigel advised us that Sorrento is his favourite Australian football team. On the basis of that song, Nigel asked if Tony's son was still married.

After For What Is Chatteris, Nigel asked the soundman if he had put reverb on the vocal. It wasn't a problem, "it makes me concentrate on the words."

We got a Lonnie Donegan cover, namely Rock O' My Soul ahead of National Shite Day. Dave Stringer was spotted in the crowd, prompting Nigel to sing the opening line of Norwich City's anthem "On The Ball, City", with elements of the mosh pit joining in. Referring back to Tranmere, he said "We've got The Rockford Files as our walk-on music."

The next celebrity spot was Lenny from The Simpsons. At the end of Dukla Prague, there was a raucous "Errr" from the floor. "That's lovely that. Thank you," said Nigel. He said to forget Colman's mustard factory and everything else. The most impressive thing about Norwich is the Castle's collection of British ceramic teapots. It is the largest in the world.

There was some grand foot-on-amp posturing during The Trumpton Riots. The caravan guitar appeared in the encore, after being retrieved from backstage, but then Nigel realised he didn't need it for the Undertones cover.

Phil was standing next to me, recording Everything's AOR on his phone. I watched a lot of that song through the camera. That's odd, when the real thing is happening only a few feet away.

"This is a song by Tygers Of Pan Tang. Hope you enjoy it," announced Nigel, before the band played Joy Division Oven Gloves.

At the end of the evening it was good to meet Ed again from Half Mandolin Half Biscuit. They are worth catching. It will probably be around the time when HMHB are next in Sheffield. I asked him about the latest situation with The Leadmill. A while back, things were looking bleak for the place. Sounds a bit more positive now.

Set lists were at a premium. Thanks to Graham Le Taxi for sending a photo of one to Karen, so that we could check against my notes. The evening went like this:

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train
Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus
Renfield's Afoot
Awkward Sean
Bob Wilson Anchorman
I'm Getting Buried In The Morning
Ninety-Nine Per Cent Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd
Dickie Davies Eyes
She's In Broadstairs
For What Is Chatteris?
Rock O' My Soul / National Shite Day
When I Look At My Baby
Black Night / What Made Colombia Famous
Surging Out Of Convalescence
Little Ole Wine Drinker Me / Sealclubbing
Midnight Mass Murder
Lark Descending
We Built This Village On A Trad Arr Tune
Vatican Broadside
Evening Of Swing (Has Been Cancelled)
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
Oblong Of Dreams
Every Time A Bell Rings
The Trumpton Riots

And in the encore

Everything's AOR
Jimmy Jimmy
Joy Division Oven Gloves

The only change being the cover version. The set list shows "Skinheads". We might assume that that is Take The Skinheads Bowling, with the band having played that previously.

Karen will tell you that ninety-nine per cent of the crowd at these shows are lovely, but there is occasionally an element that thinks it's ok to hassle or intimidate females. Chaps, it's the twenty-first century, and not acceptable. There is an organisation called Safe Gigs For Women, an initiative established with the aim of creating a safer environment for women at gigs. Check them out.

We dipped out of a trip to the pub after the gig. Early to bed, early to rise makes us all unwise, that kind of thing. Our final Biscuiteer sighting of the weekend was Howie who was on the same train as us, heading north. Hull is only a few weeks away, when we will have the opportunity to travel in an easterly direction for a change. Which reminds me, that football club with the letters that can't be coloured in... It's Hull City.

STOP PRESS. The day after the Norwich show, we woke up to the news that April's gig in Stowmarket has sold out. Within three days of going on sale. Welcome to twenty-first century Biscuitland.