SWX, Bristol, Fri 15th Sept 2023 (17/09/23)

Roger Green:

We were very sorry to hear of the passing of Geoff Davies. He always had time for you when you wanted a word, whether it was at a gig or on the phone. I only know a small number of people who saw The Beatles. He saw them many times in their early days. Loads of people knew him better than I did. But we all knew he was a lovely bloke. Without him, would there have been HMHB? Everything is linked. Gideon Coe and Marc Riley mentioned Geoff's passing, related stories about his dealings and played Irk The Purists. Rest in peace, Geoff.

"Afterwards Karen, Tony, Postman Tony and I retired to the Bay Horse for beer and recollections. To be joined by John. There were also several other attendees round and about. I hope we are all able to re-convene in Ulverston."

I wrote that paragraph at the end of my review when HMHB were in Bristol in March 2020. The Coronavirus Clouds were circling and none of us really knew when we might meet again. Karen and I went to see Pete Wylie playing at Selby Town Hall the following weekend, and then that was it. Lockdown. There was never any Ulverston. So, a return to Bristol would exorcise a few ghosts. Nigel commented on this from the stage. "Our last gig before Covid was here. Which forced us to write this..." he said, ahead of Token Covid Song.

And harking back to the show in Llangollen show in July, I picked up a festival brochure, but didn't read it until we were on the way home. Here is what they said about HMHB: "'Pedwar o hogian a sgydwodd Cilgwri" -maen nhw wedi bod yn "bodloni chwant y cyhoedd mewn amseroedd o heddwch" ers 1984. Gwerthwyd tocynnau'r digwyddiad hwn I gyd yu fuan iawn, felly, yn anffodus I chi, os na wnaethoch fachu un "y golau ar ddiwedd y twnel ydy golau'r tren sy'n dod".'

I'm sure Nigel will have been able to translate that, without assistance. But for those who don't speak Welsh, the English section of the brochure read as follows: '"Four lads who shook the Wirral" - they've been "satisfying the bloodlust of the masses in peacetime" since 1984. This event sold out very quickly so, unfortunately, if you didn't get your ticket "the light at the end of the tunnel is the light of an oncoming train".'

A tenuous HMHB link came from ITV4's coverage of the Tour De France. David Millar was talking about Pierre Latour not being a great downhill racer. "The Americans call it The Yipps," he said. So that is evidently not just a golfing term.

August's issue of Record Collector contained what I would imagine is a regular section at the back where people have records and CDs for sale. There was nothing available from HMHB, so there is no indication of what you might get for your collection if you need to put food on the table. Although I did note that one seller was wanting around a tenner per item for a selection of Barron Knights LPs.

We visited The Wirral for a cultural triple-header, taking in Skeleton Records, Prenton Park and Stanley's Cask. At Skeleton, I bought a CD, The Best Of Desmond Dekker. Happy memories of Desmond. Some of my earliest pop music memories are seeing him on Top Of The Pops. And I finally got to see him play live at Leeds Polytechnic, a couple of weeks before he died. Tranmere Rovers were at home to Salford City. Grand game, but you feel that Tranmere are going to struggle if they carry on like that. 2-1 up at half-time, they were outmuscled (I believe that is the term) and ended up losing 3-4. And in the evening, we went to see Karl, who plays guitar and takes the lead vocal in The Band-Its. You have to like your punk rock, so they always go down well with me. They are a two-set band. And yes, I made notes.

This was the first set:

Blitzkrieg Bop
Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn't Have Fallen In Love With
Tommy Gun
Sound Of The Suburbs
Shot By Both Sides
No More Heroes
Something Better Change
My Perfect Cousin
Where's Captain Kirk?
God Save The Queen
Babylon's Burning
Into The Valley
Suspect Device

And this was the second:

New Rose
London Calling
California Uber Alles
In The City
Jilted John
Swords Of A Thousand Men
Action Time Vision
Ant Music
What Do I Get?
City Kids
Complete Control
Hurry Up Harry
My Way

Encore was Pretty Vacant Overkill

There was a bit of swapping and changing from Mandy the bassist's set list. I must say it would have been nice to hear Don't Dictate. And No Feelings was also on the list. Another time, eh? If The Wirral wasn't so far away, I would go and see The Band-Its Far more often. I'm still sore about missing them when they came over to my side of the hills for Exxo's birthday.

I bought Uncut's Ultimate Genre Guide to Goth. I expected a thorough examination of Thirteen Eurogoths Floating In The Dead Sea and/or With Goth On Our Side. Not even the faintest whisper. The likes of The Sisters Of Mercy, The Birthday Party and Bauhaus featured heavily though.

Accessing the miracle of the internet, Karen was able to locate The John Peel Show from 16 October 1985. Always a pleasure to hear the voice of the great man. Particularly as, on this occasion, it was the first time that he played HMHB. The track being I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart). John said he had only heard half of the album, and remarked that if the other half was as good, then it would be very, very good indeed. As always, John was quite right. "Their cultural references are spot on." A few days later he played God Gave Us Life. That was at the wrong speed, of course. And the world moved forward from there.

We ventured into Wakefield for some live music. We are slowly getting back into habit of seeing other bands. The Establishment was the venue for Tulpa, supported by Lifter. Tulpa are locals, and we will catch them again some time. Hats off to Lifter, who had travelled from Bristol to play in front of a couple of dozen people a couple of hundred miles from home.

Thanks to HMHB fan Mickey for the latest issue of the Bentley's Roof fanzine. Glad to see that Leicester City's relegation has not dimmed the content. Good luck with getting promoted back to the top level, although there is plenty of competition.

I'm assuming everyone is familiar with the free local magazines which are pushed through your letterbox. They are full of adverts for your local plumber, electrician etc. I have noticed an increasing number of ads by tradesmen offering to install loft ladders. Take heed of the line in Grafting Haddock In The George before you place an order.

Our journey to Bristol involved a direct train from Wakefield Westgate. Andrew hopped on board at Derby. I bought The Guardian and noticed an article by Simon Price, titled "The Rise Of The Gig Idiot, And How To Stop Them." While acknowledging that "It's rock 'n' roll not the ballet", and that "live music is a space for self-expression, catharsis and abandon", Simon nevertheless concludes with his three rules... "1 Shut Up, 2 Put Your Phone Away, 3 Don't Be A Dick." Paul Hanley, previously drummer with The Fall, now with House Of All, and author of a couple of books, responded with a fair comment on Twitter... "As someone who regularly gigged in the seventies and eighties, where performers were drenched in gob, I take issue with the premise that gig-goers behaviour is getting worse." Valid points all round.

In our seats we also conquered the quick crosswords in Metro and The Guardian. Piece of cake. I also trawled the papers for mention of this gig. Nothing doing. Anywhere. The venue was packed and can't have been far off being a sell out. Who needs press coverage?

Karen, Tony, Phil, Andrew and I convened at The Bay Horse for lunch. After that, Karen and I wandered round to the Rough Trade shop. The vinyl revival is pretty much complete. It covered nearly all the floorspace. They did not have any CDs, and only a few cassettes. The world has turned full circle. Turntables are rotating once again. However, to paraphrase John Shuttleworth, "we can't go back to vinyl now".

We were prompt arriving at the venue, but were beaten to the front of the queue by Bad Loser and Mrs Bad Loser. Best t-shirt on display belonged to the guy wearing a Residents eyeball number. A bit of celebrity spotting. We saw the support band The Town Gardens walk past, including Michael who was previously in The Flux Capacitors. They had supported HMHB several times when they played around these parts.

Inside the venue, first port of call (after the bar, of course) was the merch stall. Geoff would have been happy to see brisk trade. Miles and Matt were too busy dealing with customers in the modern credit card way. No time to chat. I suppose that's the idea really. I was able to catch up with them at the end of the evening. The display board at the stall had Geoff's name and a love heart.

Some fine tunes came out of the PA during the evening. Hats off to whoever put the collection together. I Am The Fly by Wire. I Can't Get No Satisfaction by Devo. Shot By Both Sides by Magazine. Requiem by Killing Joke. I Will Follow by U2. Genius Of Love by Tom Tom Club. Ceremony by New Order. A Promise by Echo And The Bunnymen. From Her To Eternity by Nick Cave. Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus.

Also hats off to The Town Gardens. Folky stuff with an edge. And a Beatles cover thrown in for good measure. Do they now have the Southwest England support act contract? No problem with that. I scribbled down what I thought were their song titles. But thanks to Michael for the set list, for confirmation.

Sunny Side Up
And Your Bird Can Sing
One More Day
Rock The Machine
Love's Something We Lose

I didn't see any "product" for sale. Maybe they are in the studio soon. And maybe some t-shirts on the way.

Hellos all round to John, Elizabeth, Chris, Brian, Andy, Steve, Ian, Postman Tony and Graham Le Taxi. And especially to Ben, the undisputed winner of the Intrepid Traveller Award. Dunedin at the southern end of New Zealand is a fair outpost for the HMHB fanbase. The Chills remain the only band that I have seen in both hemispheres. Ben and I agreed that it is unlikely that HMHB will be joining them on that list. And, also, Hello once again to Gilly and Daisy. There was some terrific camera work from Gilly when filming the band playing The Trumpton Riots.

HMHB's walk-on music was Edward Elgar's Nimrod. In the pub afterwards, Tony told me that Elgar had dedicated this to his friend August Jaeger. Fitting then, that Nigel should hold up his bottle of water and toast "Geoff Davies".

The first song was Jarg Armani. Tony said they had not played this for a long time. Andrew did not think he had ever heard it. John tapped me on the shoulder on the appropriate line and showed me his HMHB gas lighter. He has all the props. During Renfield's Afoot, we were reminded to not bring a police torch. "It would frighten the blighters," noted Nigel.

"Gavin Esler, ladies and gentlemen," was the first celebrity spot of the evening. Tony pointed out that today would have been Marco Polo's birthday. Nigel pondered the possibility of there being a Giuseppe Trebor. He asked if anyone was in from Filton, Flax Bourton, Bedminster or New Zealand, and also said he had been reading The Thornbury Gazette. And then he regretted putting a load of crisps in his mouth. "Shouldn't have done that," he said, "I'm about to sing. It's because they are McCoys, wouldn't have happened with Walkers."

After Bob Wilson Anchorman, there was a shout about Jim Rosenthal being a knobhead on Pointless. John commented that he was knocked out in Round One. Nigel added that he has always thought that Jim has a face that looks like a shark. There was a familiar ending to Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes: "That's when I first got into The Manics. I was there from the start".

Nigel told a tale from Bristol Zoo. A guy was in the "Elephant Department" (as Nigel called it) and spotted that one of the animals was hobbling. He jumped over the fence and into the enclosure. He pulled a thorn from the elephant's foot and all was well. A couple of years later the man went to the same zoo, to the same enclosure, with his son. He saw an elephant looking at him, assumed it was the same one and jumped over the fence. Maybe the elephant remembered him. But the animal grabbed his foot and smashed him against the wall. "Must have been the wrong elephant," said Nigel.

When I Look At My Baby was a true story. Nigel said "Hello Sarah. Rest in peace." Not sure who that was for. And Nigel spotted Emily Maitlis. "That stepladder, Emily. Any time this year." Louise Lear was supposedly in the audience too. There was some speculation as to whether she is related to Edward Lear. Tony has been brewing his own beer. Neil thanked him for the excellent bottle of chocolate stout.

It's been steady progress for the band over nearly forty years. There was a big milestone tonight. "We've arrived! We've got towels!" said Nigel, wiping his forehead. Tony, the retired teacher, tapped me on the shoulder after Surging Out Of Convalescence and said that his favourite line in any song is "Is your child hyperactive, or is he perhaps a twat?" Perhaps a few other teachers would say the same?

There was a tiny snippet of Joy Division ahead of Everything's AOR. Could have been New Dawn Fades but Neil didn't play it long enough for it to register (it was "24 Hours" - ed). Nigel applauded the "Errrrr" from the floor at the end of All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit. And his memory took him back to a time when the band played that song for the first time in the Tropic Club, to an audience that included John Peel.

Nigel said that he was once playing darts in his bedroom and got a nine dart finish, but there was no one there to witness it. He also told us a story from his local butcher's. He was in the shop when a dog came in. The dog tapped three times on the counter. The butcher gave him three chops. The dog then tapped six times on the counter again. This time he was given six chicken legs before leaving the shop. Nigel was amazed by this and followed the dog home. The dog tapped on the back door and the owner let him in. Nigel said to the owner "That's a clever dog you've got there!" The owner replied, "He's not that clever. That's the second time this week that he's forgotten his key."

Someone asked Nigel if he was staying on for the Freshers Disco. He had looked at the timings for the evening. "I think there is a band on after us called Strict Curfew." Midnight Mass Murder was dedicated to the vicar of St James. There was a slight change of lyric here. "Most unclean and most...?" Couldn't detect that last word, but it didn't sound like "unwelcome". Nigel said that his Mum was a cleaner in Rhyl for Lisa from Steps's Mum, as well as for Nerys Hughes's Mum. He asked us to bear with him when they came to the cover version of Killing Joke's War Dance. "Join in if you think I'm doing it really badly."

Here is how the show went:

Jarg Armani
Renfield's Afoot
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train
Token Covid Song
Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus
Pragvec At The Melkweg
Bob Wilson Anchorman
Letters Sent
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes
I'm Getting Buried In The Morning
When I Look At My Baby
Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools
Fretwork Homework
The Best Things In Life (second half)
Vatican Broadside
We Built This Village On A Trad Arr Tune
Surging Out Of Convalescence
Everything's AOR
National Shite Day
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
For What Is Chatteris?
Oblong Of Dreams
The Trumpton Riots
Every Time A Bell Rings

Midnight Mass Murder
War Dance
Joy Division Oven Gloves

All of this was in line with Karl's list.

And that was the show. The five of us returned to the Bay Horse. Andrew and Phil were on their way to a Northern Soul club. Nothing wrong with that, except that it was time for bed for Karen and me. We were back to Temple Meads in the morning, and then back to Yorkshire. Only a few weeks now to the show in Wolverhampton.