Taking the Biscuit

Dave Woodhall’s been to see Half Man Half Biscuit.

“There’s got a dalek backstage. And a telly, because it’s posh. The dalek goes and hides behind the sofa when the One Show comes on.”

Yes folks, it’s Half Man Half Biscuit time again. The four lads who shook the Wirral brought their brand of observational electro-post-modern folk rock to Leamington for an evening of, well, of the same sort of stuff they bring to every venue they play.

It’s not being critical to say that HMHB gigs tend to be much the same.

They’ve got a fan base they know (personally in many cases) and while the words may change to reflect contemporary happenings the sentiment remains unaltered. They kick off with Shit Arm Bad Tattoo and the usual favourites are there in profusion. Running Order Squabblefest, Bob Wilson Anchorman, 24 Hour Garage People, the usual stuff that if you’ve not heard before you won’t have the faintest idea about and if you have heard them you were probably at the gig.

There’s a new album out – 90 Bisodol – so there’s also a few new songs. Titles such as Tommy Walsh’s Eco-House shows the band haven’t lost their ability to pick up on cultural references and on first hearing, L’Enfer C’est les Autres is destined for any future Best of.

As ever, some of the dialogue between band and audience is as good as the music. Lengthy descriptions of an afternoon at Birkenhead cinemas, a debate about how much Jim Baines won on the pools in Crossroads; this is a run-through of the important things in British life over the decades. Alan Bennett should be here.

That one about the football shirt and The Light at the End of the Tunnel close the set. There’s an audience singalong of Len Ganley Stance before the band return for not so much an encore as another mini-set. Len’s recent demise is sadly ignored but we do get the Fred Titmus song, there not being time for all the band’s songs that feature dead icons.

There’s a cover of the Magazine classic Song from Under the Floorboards, Trumpton Riots is almost prophetic these days and the closer is Trad Arr Tune, which is always good for a big chorus to end the evening.

Another night with the Half Men. The packed audience knew what was coming, enjoyed it, and will be back for more next time.