Half Man Half Biscuit, 16 February 2007: Manchester Academy

With a near capacity crowd in the Manchester Academy, Birkenhead’s answer to Shakespeare had a solid performance, with this gig surpassing the Holmfirth one last September.

Opening the gig was fellow labelmates Calvin Party, in front of about 400 people, with their Echo and the Bunnymen meets James style of Indie music.

By 2115 hours, came the main feature, Half Man Half Biscuit who ran on to a snatch of ’13 Eurogoths Floating In The Dead Sea’. Fifteen minutes before then, the Manchester Academy saw an extra 800 HMHB fans surge towards the venue. As with Holmfirth, they opened the gig with ‘S*** Arm Bad Tattoo’.

Friday’s gig saw a rather tight performance by Half Man Half Biscuit, with a mix of excellent new material from ‘Achtung Bono’ and a few oldies. Within the latter category were ‘4AD3DCD’, ‘Albert Hammond Bootleg’ and ‘Turned Up, Clocked Off, Laid Off’. Unlike the Holmfirth gig, ’24 Hour Garage People’ lacked the musical samples (probably due to copyright issues).

Before the encore, HMHB dedicated their last song, ‘Joy Division Oven Gloves’ to Tony Wilson, given his recent battle with cancer. This was met by rapturous applause by the 1200 – 1500 fans at the Academy. Continuing the trend of using a cover version for the encore set, their choice was ‘Containers’ by The Fall from their 1980 album ‘Grotesque: After the Gramme’.

Ending with a snatch of ‘The Best Things In Life’ and ‘We’ve Built This Village on a Trad. Arr. Tune’ before then, Half Man Half Biscuit left me wanting a second encore and a week’s worth of cold turkey, cured only by listening to ‘Achtung Bono’ and ‘Back in the DHSS’ several times.

A fantastic night, and long may they continue. When’s the next gig in the North West…?

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