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Blog: Half Man Half Biscuit

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Myself and The Strings On My Guitar headed out WEST last night, to go and see the fantastic Half Man Half Biscuit at The Shepherd's Bush Empire. It took us AGES to get there due to TRANE, so we missed out on meeting Mr S (Carsmile) Hewitt in the pub and, once inside, in the venue itself. As Mr Andy Wright, proprietor of The Princess Charlotte, said many years ago (SIDEBAR: we supported the Biscuits one night and had been promised some CA$H by Andy if enough people came - afterwards he said he couldn't pay us, I pointed out that the room had been PACKED and he said...) "it's not full, it's just that everyone's fat" (after which I didn't have the heart to ask again). This was not exactly true last night, as it WAS packed with MANY people, but it was certainly a more PORTLY audience than you'd get at, say, BabyShambles, and it made it difficult, once things had started, to go and find PALS. We found Mr M Breach and Mr J Kell as soon as we went in, but pretty soon we were SURROUNDED.

It was also a slightly DIFFERENT crowd from at most gigs - people were generally OLDER, and it was clear that MANY of them were not really regular gig goers - ANNOYINGLY loads of punters thought it was a REALLY GOOD IDEA to stand leaning on the bar ROLLING A CIGGIE when you were trying to get past, as if it were their LOCAL. However this was more than offset by the LOVELY atmosphere - i ended up chatting to several complete strangers, all of whom were excited and/or pleased to be there.

Soon HMHB were on stage, and they were GRATE. The sound took a couple of songs to get sorted, but after that it was ACE. A few weeks ago I'd used TECHNICAL MATH to work out the HMHB UBERSET and had burnt a copy for The LaZer In My CD Player, that she might do some GIG HOMEWORK beforehand, and I was pleased to find pretty much EVERYTHING got played. There was a LOT of between song REMARKS, many of which I assume will become part of SONGS in future, especially "he sparked a heated debate on vogue.com", and quite a lot of stuff about Golf Clubs (NB not putters, woods, irons etc. but ASSOCIATIONS for the pursuit of the sport). There was also, i noticed, LOADS of mentions about Christmas, as it cropped up in several songs. I guess it's just because it's the FESTIVE SEASON, but I really noticed how often it was mentioned in otherwise unrelated songs ("Advent in the high street, in point and sing - busk when it's Christmas, you only busk when it's Christmas" in "Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo", which was also one of the BEST songs all night), in much the same way as i noticed several of OUR songs mention it too. SHOCKING CULTURAL INSIGHT: Christmas, it's a Big Deal!

There were several STANDOUT BITS too - I'd not heard the extended version of "24 Hour Garage People", which was VERY extended, and was EXCITED BEYOND IMAGINING when they did "Country Practice" for the first time in YEARS at a gig that I was AT. It was FANTASTIC, there was a LOT of extra stuff in it, and my only sadness is that SOMEONE texted Tim to tell him he was missing it, and probably made him CRY - now THAT'S not very Christmassy is it?

What WAS Christmassy was the encore - "It's A Cliche To Be Cynical At Christmas"! HOORAH! There had been SOME discussion beforehand over whether they might do this, so there was LOUD cheers when they came back on with a CELLO and some backing singers, and it was BRILLIANT. The whole thing was Actually Quite Moving, and hearing it played AT Christmas was lovely. Ooh, i felt all FESTIVE!

There was also a CLASH cover, and ended with a ROUSING version of the end of "The Best Things In Life" (i.e. "Writing on the sole of your slipper with a biro...") which, rather AMAZINGLY, included a bit where the band stopped player and the audience sang the last line on their own - STADIUM ROCK!

It was all FANTASTIC anyway, and we were SWEPT out into the cold along with the rest of the crowd HAPPY at such an ACE night. HOORAH for GIGS!

posted 22/12/2006 by MJ Hibbett

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