Half Man Half Biscuit
Holmfirth Picturedome
7th December 2012.

Half Man Half Bisuit never fail to please either live or on record. That is a known fact. Earlier in the month they took to the stage at Holmfirth’s Picturedome & as expected they reinforced that reputation. Louder Than War were present twofold, with Liam Core on writing duty and with Elspeth Moore taking pics.

Often thought of by many as a bunch of musical relics from the 80’s, it is perhaps of no surprise that Half Man Half Biscuit were again booked to play the Picturedrome in Holmfirth, a venue regularly played by fellow alleged fellow relics such as The Fall and Inspiral Carpets. After a storming two plus hour set, touching on songs across their near thirty year career, Half Man Half Biscuit proved to be anything but the musical relics that are often characterised as.

Having never been to the Picturedrome before, it immediately became one of my favourite venues. Small but not too small, the venue has a cracking atmosphere leading up to the venue. Having done a full day’s work on the Isle of Man, and then flown in for the gig, and had the usual stresses of rush hour travel into and out of Leeds, it was pleasant to experience a busy but efficient bar rolling through punters orders with excellent speed. Drinks purchased, it was straight down the front for the gig.

Opening with an impressive version of Irk the Purists, a song which ridicules the musical arrogance portrayed by some (myself no doubt included) the first of many mass sing-along’s starts. Nigel Blackwell, and I probably won’t get thanked for this, inspires the crowd to join in a way I’ve only seen by Morrissey, albeit on a larger scale. Album tracks from 2002, such as the brilliantly worded When The Evening Sun Goes Down, are recited back word perfectly by a bunch of people who just a few hours before had been stuck in an office.

There’s probably not a lot about a Biscuits gig that hasn’t been said by many before. Their punk songs are all about the lyrics (and they certainly are a punk band, I’ve always thought of the famous “best English folk band since The Clash” as being one of the most pretentious things I’ve ever heard), the crowd and it’s worship of Nigel Blackwell. Nigel straddles the very line of being satirical, comedic and insightful without the band ever descending into comedy act territory. With songs like “The Light at the End of The Tunnel” unquestionably the best song ever about a partner leaving you for someone of a seemingly higher social class (I am also reliably informed that this song inspired two fans to sponsor a non league football game as a celebration of the band, probably one of the weirdest acts of band devotion ever) having the crowd sing-along en masse “NO THRILLS HANDY FOR THE HILLS THAT’S THE WAY YOU SPELL NEW MILLS!” before diving into the fast paced “Asparagus Next Left”, again probably the best song ever written by the dangers of buying direct from farms in the countryside with the crowd joining in on every word.

The banter with the crowd is perfect as well. The assembled throng could quite easily be happy to listening to Nigel talk on stage. They lap up Nigel’s tales of only sitting in his assigned seat at Prenton Park on Boxing Day so as to annoy the people who only go once a season, and references to Stuart Hall, who Nigel stated would get five years in prison. (Stuart Hall was arrested on the day of the gig on suspicion on sexual offences). Often, it can be quite frustrating for a front man to witter on about various things, but here is suits and actually adds to the enjoyment of the gig.

The gig itself is class song after class song, musically on the ball & sounding great throughout. Nigel understandably takes most of the spotlight, but he is ably supported by Neil Crossley on bass, Carl Henry on drums, and the legendary Ken Hancock on guitar. The band is tight, well rehearsed and show a great desire to give everyone in the audience a cracking night out. The thirty song set covered all parts of their career,  with a  rare outing for debut album fave “99% of Gargoyles look like Bob Todd” all the way through to “Rock and Roll is full of Bad Wools” and “Excavating Rita” from the 2011 album 90 Bisodol (Crimond), with the older songs still sounding fresh and vibrant, and the newer songs fitting in the set like old favourites. Half Man Half Biscuit may forever be associated with a particular era, but the reality is they remain as fresh and as vibrant as ever. This gig was a particular highlight of 2012 for me, and I cant wait to see them in 2013.

Setlist:

Irk The Purists
When The Evening Sun Goes Down
My Baby Got The Yipps
Quality Janitor
Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes
99% Of Gargoyles
Joy In Leeuwarden
The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman
The Best Things In Life
Excavating Rita
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Asparagus Next Left
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
National Shite Day
Tending The Wrong Grave
Bob Wilson Anchor Man
Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis
Used To Be In Evil Gazebo
Monmore Hare’s Running
For What Is Chatteris?
PRS Yearbook
Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools
1966 And All That
We Built This Village On A Trad Arr Tune
Vatican Broadside
Fix It So She Thinks Of Me
Trumpton Riots
It’s Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas
Rhinestone Cowboy
Joy Division Oven Gloves

All word Liam Core, all photo’s © Elspeth Moore. More of Liam’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here.

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here