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HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT (The Robin)

10-03-2009

Half Man Half Biscuit

For the second day in a row, The Stirrer reviews Half Man Half Biscuit at The Robin in Bilston. This time it’s Dave Woodhall pogoing down the front.

A strange band, Half Man Half Biscuit. They’ve had no hits, little in the way of promotion yet they still keep going and attracting decent crowds to their rowdy live performances.

They’ve also never rested on their eighties laurels and still keep coming up with quality new material – last year’s album CSI Ambleside was their twelfth. Yet they still seem to attract the usual crowd of thirty-and-upwards-somethings who assembled at the Robin to hear a collection of your favourite melodies.

Dukla Prague away shirts weren’t compulsory but were well to the fore, as were more band t-shirts than I’ve seen for many a gig. Talking of which, you can imagine the crowd here standing on the Holte or the South Bank twenty years ago.

Starting off with Took Problem Chimp to the Ideal Home Show, we had a rattlingly good 90 minutes that mixed old favourites (Dickie Davies’ Eyes played live for the first time in 15 years, apparently) with new.

Trumpton Riots got the great reception is always deserves, Bob Wilson - Anchorman went down a storm and The Light at the End of the Tunnel was heartily sung along with.

They had to play Monmore Hare’s Running in deference to the surroundings, and luckily where I was standing there wasn’t any of those annoying berks who take great delight in shouting obscure titles and bits of lyrics between songs. Some of the best moments at a HMHB gig are snippets that are part-song, part-interlude, such as the ode to Glenn Hoddle, “Everywhere you go, always take John Gorman with you.”

You don’t expect virtuosity at an HMHB gig, but a couple of decades of playing together has given them a tightness a lot of more serious musicians would envy. Singer Blackie has the ability to sound every bit as serious as Leonard Cohen, although the Master of Mirthless has never written anything as profound as the “Two scotch eggs and a jar of Marmite” section of 24 Hour Garage People, even if the song did drag a bit. They could have cut it in half and stuck Paintball’s Coming Home in the gap.

Vatican Broadside and Joy Division Oven Gloves finished off the set proper, we get a three song encore culminating in Time Flies By and that’s it for another night of Biscuit-induced festivities. My mate Joe, who knows about these things, reckons it’s the best he’s ever seen them play and the award of Best Gig of 2009 has already been won. See you next year.

Walsall Arboretum – nice day out but take a flask.

To see John O’ Shea’s review, click here

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