WITH their faithful cult following, dedication to the art of the song title (shameless puns and namechecking lesser-sung sporting heroes of yesteryear a speciality) and enduring reputation as John Peel favourites, Birkenhead’s Half Man Half Biscuit are The Fall it’s okay to laugh at – or, preferably, with.
Half Man Half Biscuit
But this was a pretty underpowered display of their charms. Arriving onstage with zero fanfare, they strolled into a shoulder shrug of a show which rarely moved out of a modest cruising speed.
No-one was here for dynamic musicianship or inventive tunesmithery – if they can’t come up with a jangly ditty or peppy punky canter of their own, HMHB often just appropriate popular tunes anyway. But a bit of oomph would have gone a long way to remedying the initially diffident crowd response, especially given their winning armoury of instantly accessible lyrics, examining the crucial minutiae of British culture with wit, whimsy and, on the likes of
low-slung garage epic National S**** Day, a healthy dollop of outright scorn.
Eventually, though, they hit a belated sprightly run of fan favourites, including folky rabble-rouser The Light At The End Of The Tunnel (Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train), tender tragicomedy All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit, rockabilly rumble Everything’s AOR, their solitary chart hit Joy Division Oven Gloves and the customary cover version which on this occasion was an enjoyable blokey romp through the Bee Gees’ Tragedy.