A nourishing start to the day. Having checked out of the Travelodge in Stowmarket, Karen, Andrew, Tony and I were round to Narey's Garden Centre Café for a Full English. This place was evidently more popular than the breakfast boxes at the Travelodge. John, Postman Tony, Phill and Another Andy showed up. Phill was well happy with his digs at The Bull Inn at Woolpit. We'll give it a go, next time we are in the environs of Stowmarket. And hello to the couple from Preston. Sorry didn't catch your names. Hope to see you at a gig round your way some time.
With Andrew behind the wheel, we headed off to Cambridge. He has a magnificent in-house music collection. German football songs, Serious Drinking, The Smiths. And White Mice by The Mo-dettes. That took me back.
We could have made it to the Cambridge v Peterborough match which was taking place. Early kick-off just as we were arriving in town. Instead I opted for an afternoon typing up my notes from the Stowmarket gig the previous night. Karen ligged, while Phill, Andrew and Tony went for a walk round, including a knickerbocker glory at the ice cream parlour across the square from the Travelodge. The bastards. Karen and I tucked in at Nandos, where we saw Nigel and Denise ordering a takeaway. Clearly the restaurant of choice. You need to like chicken though.
The latest issue of Vive Le Rock carried an advert, placed by The Gig Cartel, for forthcoming HMHB gigs. It's time to get moving if you haven't already done so. Friday 28 April, Hull - Welly Club. Friday 19 May, Edinburgh - Liquid Rooms. Friday 15 September, Bristol - SWX. Friday 6 October, Wolverhampton - The Halls. Friday 3 November, Holmfirth - Picturedrome. No mention of the business at Llangollen, but I suppose that event is not under The Gig Cartel's umbrella. A lot of these, of course, are sold out. Be sure to book as soon as possible if/when you see something new coming up.
I picked up a copy of Cambridge News. Nothing doing regarding a preview of this gig. But something's afoot at the cinema. There was a review of Renfield. There'll be a batwalk or two in there. Let me know if you get to see it, and confirm if there is any characters running round bollocko at 2am. Likewise, the Cambridge Independent didn't give the gig any space. No publicity required of course. The evening sold out ages back.
There are longer walks from hotel to venue. We took the few steps and were waiting outside at 6.30, half an hour ahead of the doors opening. Still buoyed by their ice cream, Tony, Andrew and Phill were not far behind us. Alex was also in the queue. He said that he had heard Bob Wilson Anchor Man being played on Five Live's Fighting Talk that morning. Unusual. I didn't think they had music on there.
Inside the venue I had a chat with Neil. He said this was Geoff Davies' 80th birthday, later confirmed on stage by Nigel. I'm sure a lot of folk remember Geoff from when he managed and travelled with the band and manned the merch stall, now ably undertaken by Miles. Geoff is one of only a few people that I know, who saw The Beatles live.
There was the usual crowd milling around at the front. John, Howie, Steve, Postman Tony and Andy were checked on the register. Other regulars were round and about. I nodded in the direction of Graham Le Taxi, Daz and Exxo. And Nigel and Jo had made it from Goole. T-shirt Of The Day would have gone to the chap wearing the one saying "Bedford Isn't Shit", but we have to stick with Andy and "L'Enfer C'Est Les Autres".
Model Village were the support band, with cheery tales of the cost of living crisis, charities and hating rich people. I could consult the various files, but I'm sure these have supported HMHB in the past. They said they liked supporting the band as it means they don't have to pay to get in. I may have overlooked their stuff, if it was on the merch stall. Thanks to their guitarist for the set list.Insufferable
I usually need Tony's advice if the walk-on music is from the classical end. He narrowed it down to Verdi. Around twenty-one hours later, after a considerable amount of mulling over, he dropped me a text to confirm that it was the Italian national anthem. Possibly for Lorenzo.
When the band arrived on stage, Nigel opened the conversation with "Are you ok for bags?" He was wearing Sebago shoes, as discussed with someone in the front row. Carl was back wearing his Palestine football shirt. I couldn't read all of Karl's. I think the first two words were "Let Us". Early in the gig there was a problem with Nigel's mike stand. The soundman Colin appeared, and put it right with good old gaffer tape (or was it masking tape?) with perfect timing, just before Nigel had to pick up the vocals in Bad Wools.
Tony asked Nigel if he had been to the Arctic exhibition. "Been before" was the reply. Nigel spotted Martine Croxall in the crowd. "Martine, have you told him yet? He'll be alright. God loves him."
It was Hymn Number 242 in Petty Sessions. I should check, but isn't it 252 in the recorded version? And I was totally stumped by Neil's song at the beginning of Awkward Sean. There was a shout from the floor, "Carl, you've got a loose cymbal." To which Nigel replied, "I bet it's not the first time you've shouted that." Colin appeared on stage again, to put things right. Dickie Davies Eyes was written by Bedford Jezzard. Karen noticed an amendment. The Romany bint is now a "Romany girl". Is that one for our times?
Nigel said that the night before Stowmarket, the band had stopped in Kettering, which he now knows is pronounced with two syllables. Then Bury St Edmunds last night. "Home of the cockapoo, or should that be labradoodle?" he added. And this was when he also mentioned Geoff's 80th. "Happy birthday, Geoff!"
Neil played the bass opening bit of Midnight Mass Murder. "No, not that one," Nigel interrupted. "Maybe later." Tony shouted "He's got last night's setlist." Nigel suggested that "He's Got Last Night's Set List" would be a good title for a TV sitcom. Starring Derek Guyler.
Yet again, Renfield's Afoot included the line about NOT bringing a police torch. And at the end of the song, Nigel said "True story". A replacement mike stand was sourced. "This one is much better," commented Nigel. "Microphone of the month?" asked Tony. Nigel said that Tony has started laughing at his own jokes. At the start of Vatican Broadside, Carl was fixing one of the cymbals, but managed to race back to his seat before he had to hit the drums.
Matthew Amroliwala was spotted. "I thought you would have been with Martine," Nigel said. "Did you manage to get rid of it? We can drop it off for you at Norton Canes. It'll be quiet at that time of night." Karen caught a satsuma that was thrown from the stage.
Another exchange came with a guy in the crowd.
"Is Shane Mackay here. He's fifty today."
And Nigel continued, "I was stalling because I wasn't sure what was coming next. I'm not sure who starts this. Are we all in? Oh yeah, this is... another one..." And they played The Len Ganley Stance. "It started today," he added, referring to the snooker championship.
At one point there was a lot of feedback coming from the stage. "It was turning into a My Bloody Valentine gig." Miles on the merch stall was directly in Nigel's eyeline as he reached up to unhook a t-shirt. "You all right, Miles?" he asked. "Never done this before," Nigel pointed out before they played Rogation Sunday's Here Again. Neil said they probably will never play it again.
A pullover was thrown onto stage. Nigel was reminded of the time that a mallet got thrown. After For What Is Chatteris, Nigel said "I read a lot of maps. It looks really good on them. 'The ad in National Shite Day stipulated "Own Van". Maybe it was just me, but Nigel seemed to be getting a bit croaky after two gigs in two days. Still far better than watching any other band two nights on the trot though.
"We're going to end with a slow one. A bit of a ballady one," said Nigel, before they played Joy Division Oven Gloves. Is there some kind of hierarchical struggle going on in the band? There were two stage doors. Neil used one, while the others used the other. Then they all came back on through the one door.
One chap was seen bouncing around, sitting on the shoulders of a fellow punter. The security guy indicated for him to get down. A shrug of the shoulders, indicating "Whatever" was pretty much the response. Thanks to Karl for the set list. It matched what I wrote down, as follows.She's In Broadstairs
And in the encoreOblong Of Dreams
Another Girl Another Planet was the cover version. "Join in if you want," Nigel suggested. "God rest Jo Bradley's soul," he said before the very last song. That being Jo's favourite. Yes, some good folk have passed along this way.
John Anderson sought me out for a one-book signing. I've mentioned his A Great Face For Radio on here before now. Copies must still be available, even if they are all located under John's bed. Recommended.
"Have a good evening, weatherwise or otherwise" was Nigel's traditional sign off. And that was our cue to hit the bar at the Travelodge. Thanks to The Other Andy for getting the beers in, and to everyone else there for comparing notes. And to the folk who were there at breakfast. Daisy and her Mum. Gilly. I'm sure you said you would be at the Bristol gig. The rest of us are heading in the direction of Hull in less than a fortnight. And massive thanks to Andrew and Karen for jointly ferrying me, laptop on knee, to and from Stowmarket and Cambridge.