Half Man Half Biscuit (The Biscuits) don’t tour, and they rarely play gigs, take a look at their ‘fixture list’ and you’ll see a smattering of gigs often not reaching double figures. Therefore, when they do play it’s a must-see gig, and to be honest they seem to like the Robin, as they tend to play here each year.
Walking on stage (at an early quarter to nine) to Killing Joke’s “Requiem” the band stand listening to the song before Nigel comments that the song is “good, the next one isn’t, it’s all downhill from now” before opening with “Joy in Leeuwarden”. As usual the assembled punters know each song, singing along, waiting for Nigel’s between song chat, which tonight covers the ‘White Horse Final between Bolton and West Ham’, ever pressing a punter’s knowledge on details of the game.
The set, as ever, is unique to this gig. I’ve been seeing The Biscuits since 1986 and never seen even a remotely similar set, such is their charm. Tonight, was also unique in that there were a few firsts. There was dry ice, a first for them. There was also the between-song crisp eating by Nigel, this is a first for any band I’ve seen but he did quantify that “kettle crisps are over-rated” as he had them on his sandwich in the van on the way, “A41 door to door”.
Prior to “Clichéd to be Cynical” we are told that guitarist Ken was the “first man in the Wirral to have Yakult” before the afore-mentioned “curveball” which Nigel later says they planned to play at a Christmas gig but didn’t know it that well.
An inflatable seal is thrown on stage, which Neil places to the side of the stage, and someone shouts “his name is Ron”, Nigel retorting “Ron seal? We’re officially now the Grumble weeds show”. It is brilliant.
The set continues and before you know it nearly two hours have gone. The encore ends, as usual with a cover version. Previously we’ve had “Rhinestone Cowboy”, and “Rubber Bullets” but tonight a little more obscure in that we get Pere Ubu’s “Final Solution”.
A new CD is available, well I say new, it features songs from long-released and deleted CD singles, but each is a gem. Someone once said to me they don’t get The Biscuits, I don’t understand this to be fair. They are unique, brilliant and do their own thing. They should be huge (famously they turned down a TV appearance on The Tube because it clashed with Tranmere home game) and this proves they are not like any other band; they have morals.
So if you’ve never treated your ears what should you listen to? I can’t single out a particular album, they are all great, every home should have at least one, but more importantly every person who says they are a music fan should see The Biscuits live, at least once. Until you’ve stood with 500 people, shouting “Midge Ure looks like a milk thief” then you’ve not lived. It was simply euphoric. And dare I say true.
Joy in Leeuwarden
Bob Wilson Anchor-man
Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo
Fear My Wraith
Totnes Bickering Fayre
Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride
If I Had Possession Over Pancake Day
The Evening Sun Goes Down
Fuckin’ ‘ell It’s Fred Titmus
It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas
Tommy Walsh’s Eco-House
Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools
27 Yards Of Dental Floss
King Of Hi-Vis
The Bane Of Constance
A Lilac Harry Quinn
Dukkla Prague Away Kit
National Shite Day
The Trumpton Riots
For What Is Chatteris
Joy Division Oven Gloves
Busy Little Market Town
Final Solution (Pere Ubu cover)
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Reviewer: Glenn Raybone
Photographer: Chris Bowley