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The Midlands Rocks

Half Man Half Biscuit @ Robin 2, Bilston – Thursday 8 February 2018

Bilston Ho!

Witnessed by Jason Guest

Another bad review. By which I mean, reviews of HMHB shows are destined to be dull affairs. HMHB gigs are gigs to which the old “you should have been there” adage applies. All the time. Always. Without exception. This time last year, Black Sabbath were playing their penultimate show in Birmingham, and while there were a few people there, no one could deter the devout from making their way to Bilston to see Nigel and co. deliver another outstanding evening of “if you weren’t there…” (review here). And so, one year later and anticipating an album that’s to appear sometime soon apparently, the devout bunch of Brian May-haired, Dukla Prague Away Kit-clad, Joy Division oven glove-brandishing, Bob Wilson-bewildered bodies emerge from the depths of the DHSS, pull the ice axes from their legs and head to not-so-nor-ever-really-been-sunny Bilston.

With a new guitarist in the ranks – “Karl”, probably – HMHB don’t storm the stage like the rock stars they never are. With a mic stand that just won’t stay in place despite constant fiddling and suggestions from a very-qualified-yet-clearly-inept engineer down the front, and monitors that are never quite loud enough but not too low to impede the performance, Nigel the autodidact is once again educating the masses. Did you know, for instance, that the bloke that sang Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’ died on 30 December, the very same day that Rasputin himself died? No, neither did I. And I’ll probably forget it sometime soon. Unless of course QI, which, quite spookily coincidentally, is on the ‘O’ series and so could select the Occult for a topic to generate another 30 minutes of middle class self-satisfied whimsy.

With a set-list of close on 30 songs and featuring a cover of Strangler’s ‘Something Better Change’ thrown in amongst the ironic guitar hero poses – specifically the foot on the monitor and the jumping off the drum riser variety – Half Man Half Biscuit leave Bilston thoroughly entertained and, notably and perhaps more importantly, better educated. With such “oh, I didn’t know that” topics including the terrors of travel on this country’s A-roads and the unnoticed deaths of Magnus Pyke in 1992 and Cyril Fletcher in 2005, and the quick lesson in engineering – “just leave the mic stand alone” – one can’t help but praise Half Man Half Biscuit for being a band that gives their audience something more than, something over and above, what most if not all bands do. Nope, your Metallicas, your Biebers nor your Kanyes can be said to give their fans anything on this level.

If you weren’t, you should have been there.

Yes, I know, another bad review. I did say…

Set list:

  1. Stuck Up A Hornbeam
  2. Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess
  3. A Lilac Harry Quinn
  4. Squabblefest
  5. Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis
  6. 27 Yards Of Dental Floss
  7. See That My Bike’s Kept Clean
  8. Bob Wilson Anchorman
  9. Something’s Rotten In The Back Of Iceland
  10. Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools
  11. Ode To Joyce
  12. The Unfortunate Gwatkin
  13. The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman
  14. King Of Hi-Vis
  15. Emerging From Gorse
  16. Took Problem Chimp To Ideal Home Show
  17. Give Us Bubblewrap
  18. For What Is Chatteris
  19. Everything’s A.O.R.
  20. When The Evening Sun Goes Down
  21. National Shite Day
  22. The Bane Of Constance
  23. Joy Division Oven Gloves

Encore:

  1. Restless Legs
  2. Vatican Broadside
  3. Something Better Change (Stranglers cover)
  4. The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

 

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