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Half Man Half Biscuit - Shepherds Bush
by Dave Wiggins
A particularly distasteful feature of Half Man Half Biscuit 'live' reviews - see the excellent HMHB.CO.UK - is the way they always start with something like, "so I met up with Carlisle Pete, and St Neots Steve, in the Kebab and Calculator, Matlock. They do a fine pint of Foreskins Old Rectangular". Just concentrate on the gig, you middle-aged weirdos.
And so it was, that a few nights before Christmas, I met up with two WSAG regulars, and some time SWINEsters, Mr Dog Catcher and Mr Brassneck, at O'neill's bar, in that there London town. They do a boss Orange and Passion Fruit J20. The evening began with some fine comedy, as the Dog unsuccessfully tried to tout the spare ticket that had arisen due to Mr Stabilo's illness / bird-sloping (depending on whose version you believe).
Following a support act whose name I can't even be bothered to look up (but newly signed to Probe Plus I believe), The Biscuits emerged to a packed house, to the amusing strains of 'The Snowman' (or, "that Walking in the Air one", as most people refer to it). Having seen them live on numerous occasions, and being a big fan (even to the toe-curling attempts to write a book about them - subsequently dropped following some sinister mutterings from the band itself), it's hard for me to be objective. As ever, they were brilliant, with Nigel Blackwell's deadpan comments, mid-song, being as keenly anticipated as the songs themselves. Of particular genius - during '24 Hour Garage People' - was the playing, on a cassette recorder, of a snatch of several tracks that would no doubt feature on the surly garage attendants I-Pod, as he dolorously charged you for your ten kit kats and a motoring atlas. These include Starship's 'We Built This City On Rock and Roll', ELO'S 'Mr Blue Sky', Toto's 'Hold The Line', and 'Dancing in the Moonlight' by, ahem, Toploader. Glorious.
The ninety minute set closed with the topical 'It's clichéd to be cynical at Christmas', replete with a cellist and two fans / wives / girlfriends shaking festive bells on stage. The normal post-Biscuits gig angst of "well that's our lot for another two years" was also missing, as, for us northerners, we have the Manchester Academy date on 16 February to also look forward to. Be there, SWINE-heads, or stay at home to watch telly. Whatever.
All in all (whatever that means), then, a bonzer gig, with the only blot on the night being a series of drive-by shoutings outside.
The Set-List (from memory)
The Light at the end of the tunnel
Them's the vagaries
Bob Wilson Anchorman
For what is Chatteris?
Running order squabble fest
24 hour garage people
Fuckin' ell, it's Fred Titmuss
Shit arm, bad tattoo
Look dad, no tunes
Outbreak of Vitas Gerulaitis
It's clichéd to be cynical at Christmas
A country practice
CORGI registered friends
Joy Division Oven Gloves
He who would valium take
We built this village on a trad arr tune
And several more that I'll only remember as soon as I've e mailed this to the Ed
Dirty Pretty Things @ Birmingham Academy
by Liam Ronan
I love this venue; with it’s usual mix of likely lads, Topshop Princesses, and Kook-alikes, it provides just the right inspirational setting for a quality gig. It was, in fact, a similar concoction of rebellious boys and girls that helped create punk, the genre of music that spat out bands such as The Clash and the Sex Pistols. Without these bands, modern music would not be the same, and neither The Libertines nor Dirty Pretty Things would ever have existed. Quite right then, that DPT shows its utmost respect to those Clash City Rockers by making raw, energetic music and giving blood and sweat performances. And tonight is no exception.
Larrikin Love kick off the proceedings followed by a truly unique and exhilarating performance from Hot Club De Paris, who charge the audience with an energy that releases as soon as the headliners hit the stage. Not even the ‘beer shampoos,’ which soak so much of the crowd at the front, can dampen tonight’s electric atmosphere.
Carl Barat, Gary Powell, Anthony Rossomando, and Didz Hammond passionately play through tonight’s set-list, opening with Wondering, which is sung back to them word for word by the fired up crowd. The B-side Chinese Dogs, is a masterpiece and vibrates the venue with a pounding dub and triple-time rock’n’roll beat, but DPT don’t reach their peak yet. Their ‘last gang in town’ attitude is paralleled in fan-favourite, the gun-slinging Deadwood and the hits Gin and Milk, You Fucking Love It, Last of the Smalltown Playboys and Bang Bang! Your Dead go down perfectly, but at such a speed, the crowd don’t have time to get their breaths back, yet alone give a round of applause. I am surprised that no one collapses, but everyone is feeding from one power source: the Rock’n’Roll brought to you by DPT. Three Libertine tunes, The Good Old Days, France, and I Get Along are performed during the gig, with France at the encore, receiving a frenzied response and predictably the final tune I Get Along bringing absolute mayhem to the whole room for just over two minutes.
So the encore is over, the lights come on and it is time for everyone to go home to bed and dream happy dreams, sound-tracked by the tremendous riffs and sounds of Dirty Pretty Things; one of the greatest bands around today.
The Dead Shores, Wigan King’s Electric
by Liam Ronan
I’d never been to Wigan before, so I thought why not drive there at nine o’clock at night after an eight hour shift and see this band everyone had been raving about…it was worth it.
I received a proper Wigan welcome, there was a parking space with my name on it outside a pie shop (after all, this is the pie capital of the world) and there was a pint of bitter waiting for me at the bar, which was a surprisingly trendy place; this was a good sign. I was here to see The Dead Shores: four local working lads who write witty and catchy tunes about the misery of everyday grafting, consumerism and terrace culture. When I first heard them on Myspace, they reminded me a bit of The Farm and a lot like their idols Half Man Half Biscuit (HMHB). They embodied a very northern, early nineties baggy sound. But live, they had a great more energy and charm, similar to current indie starlets Little Man Tate.
The Dead Shores embrace casual culture. Clad in Stone Island, Barbour, Fjallraven, Lacoste and Fred Perry, I wasn’t sure if it was the band I was due to meet or Wigan’s Goon Squad discussing the coming weekend’s tactics over a pint. However, luckily for me (I didn’t want to get ‘Gooned’) it was the band. Lead singer Craig Whitfield and bassist Tony Wilkinson seemed quite conscientious and were confident of the band’s sound and potential. David ‘Oaksey’ Oakes is the group’s laid back young guitarist while Lee Robinson is just a typical drummer: on another planet. On stage though, you can tell they are a united front: the music they play is tight as fuck with a consistent rhythm that works very well.
The venue was full of blonde scousette babes and top boys, alongside some nervous looking Kook-alikes. The opener was proof of why the room was packed, V. Darts is a high-tempo punk track in which the leads singer was reminiscent of Clint Boon in the way he often talked while singing. This was followed by an even better track, Modern Men, a satirical view of the multiplying tribe of metrosexual men who “are always on their sunbeds.” Top of the Tower reminded me of a Liam Gallagher track called ‘Take me,’ it had a good riff and was full of anger, but still oozed northern cool. I Want Nigel Blackwell’s Autograph is by far The Dead Shores’ finest asset and offers a show of respect to their biggest influence HMHB. It’s baggy, bouncy and happy, and urges you to sing along immediately. It will also appeal to those skint followers of terrace fashion with the words, “I want everything…I want the new Stone Island jacket, but they’ve only just come out so I can’t have it.” Sexy Legs is a tongue-in-cheek tune with a football chant chorus and sounds like the B52’s if they were likely Lancashire lads. The set-list contained eleven songs and nearly every single one was a gem.
The gig was top notch, and unusually for an unsigned band I came home singing the words for several choruses that I only heard that night. They have a lot of potential and the fact that they are still not signed means nothing, if they carry on writing as good songs, and performing the way they did that night, their time will soon come.
The View @ Manchester Academy
by Liam Ronan
Gigwise crams into what looks like a junior school sports hall, and what feels like a tin of sardines, or should I say Scottish smoked salmon, because The View were in town. And don’t we know it, as a pint of beer smashes over our heads thrown by one of the invading Tartan Army of followers from their native Dryburgh. “The View, The View, The View are on fire!” they rowdily chant; before, after and in-between every song. Not a kilt in sight though.
We don’t have to wait long before The View splutter onto the stage, with images of their Dundee estate behind them, projected by an overhead (giving the hall an even more authentic school feel). Their slurred Dundonian Scottish is not understood by most people, but Kyle makes an effort to break the language barrier in his opener Coming Down, “It’s about ecstasy, you lot should know about that!”
Their debut, Wasted Little DJs is greeted by one of those receptions many new bands get when a lot of the audience doesn’t know all their songs yet, sort of a ‘yes, one we know!’ response. It is this track that really shifts the gig up a gear, and brings to the fore the band’s parallels with The Libertines.
During a ‘technical difficulty,’ guitarist Peter takes it upon himself to sweeten up the Mancunian audience with a humble bow, announcing that, “Manchester’s the fucking heart of indie music…it’s an honour.” A cover of The Squeeze’s Up the Junction is a hark back to their pub-playing days, and gets the older people dancing at the back. This is soon followed by current single Same Jeans, a song that much of the audience can empathise with, as it is mostly made up of students.
Soon, the waiting is over. After fan favourites Skag Trendy (a homage to fan Pete Doherty?) and The Don, The View’s chart-busting hit Superstar Tradesman is performed triumphantly to a jubilant and joyous crowd covered in beer and sweat. Is that how the band get their look?
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