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Half Man Half Biscuit, Holmfirth Picturedrome, Fri 7 December 2012

February 9, 2013

Oh before the gods that made the gods were born
Yes before the gods that made the gods were born
Yes before the gods that made the gods
Woke up and made the gods

That’s how long Neil’s been saying Stuart Hall

This is the first time we’ve combined the bike tour with a gig, and they’re as good as any of us have seen them, with Blackwell hitting a rich vein of Operation Yew Tree-related comedy.

To get there we’ve traversed the snowy wastes of West Yorkshire, getting lost in the grounds of Wakefield College, wheeling our bikes through mangrove swamps, and crossing sinister enclosed bridges over runnels.   We feel like contestants on Junior Kickstart (was there ever a senior Kickstart?)

On arrival in Holmfirth, we find it full of balding overweight forty-somethings in black T-shirts with slogans like “Still Hate Thatcher”.  Their husbands are here too.   We’re at the venue just in time for a superb opening double-salvo of ‘Irk the Purists’ and ‘When the Evening Sun Goes Down’, before Blackwell starts bantering with the fans.  “Apparently, some kids nicked a crate of Red Bull.  I don’t know how they can sleep at night”.  He goes on to muse on the satisfaction of Boxing Day matches when you’re a season-ticket holder at a poorly supported club, and his Christmas gift selections – “I’ve got my mother-in-law a UK Subs seven-inch”.

P1000485Musically, they earn comparisons (from David Davies) with Crazy Horse.    There’s an excellent ‘Used to be in Evil Gazebo’, with Stuart Hall replacing the owl as umpire of the Boy v. Bear table tennis match, and a dramatic pause before the “I’ve Been in a mental Hospital” refrain.   We have an enjoyable bellow along to ‘The Light at the End of the Tunnel’, which name-checks three of the destinations we’re about to visit.   Other highlights include ‘National Shite Day’, which sees an inflatable sanderling hurled on stage, although Blackwell notes, astutely, that it looks more like a tern.  The obligatory encore cover version  is ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ – I’m sure he sings “Like a Nine Stone Cowboy” at one point.  At the Elephant and Castle later, Nick and David meet a man who says he couldn’t accept a life partner who didn’t share his love of HMHB, Cathal Coughlan of the Fatima Mansions, and Jocky Wilson.    Sounds perfectly reasonable.

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