Gig Cartel Presents
Half man Half Biscuit
Strictly over 14s only / Under 16s with an adult / Photographic ID required for entry
“I always like to get back home afterwards, no matter how far away the venue. Own bog, own bed – you can’t ask for more than that, in my opinion.” That was Nigel Blackwell’s response when asked about Half Man Half Biscuit’s early approach to gigging in 2001. The cult Birkenhead band’s frontman won’t have too far to go after playing Manchester’s Ritz on 28th November. He should be used to it by now, Half Man Half Biscuit formed in 1984. Bar a hiatus from 1986-1990 the punk-inspired outfit have released a steady stream of razor-sharp albums, the latest was 2011’s ’90 Bisodol (Crimond)’.
As well as the sight of Blackwell rushing off back to Merseyside after the show, fans at The Ritz can expect an eye-opening performance spanning Half Man Half Biscuit’s long career. The band was conceived at a time when Blackwell was “still robbing cars and playing football like normal people do.” After Blackwell met bassist Neil Crossley when he went to see his punk band Venom, the pair forged a friendship and founded Half Man Half Biscuit. Blackwell’s brother Simon was recruited to play lead guitar, with drummer Paul Wright also joining.
Half Man Half Biscuit immediately began writing witty and sarcastic songs at odds with those of their indie peers. Their debut album, its title a sardonic nod to a rather more famous Merseyside band’s ‘Back In The USSR’ LP, was released in 1985. ‘Back In The DHSS’ referenced the government department that handled unemployment at the time. Blackwell, who had been receiving benefits since 1979, wrote songs including ‘Time Flies By (When You’re The Driver Of A Train)’ and ‘Reflections In A Flat’ for the album. At a time when Depeche Mode and New Order were in their pomp, Half Man Half Biscuit’s gritty post-punk debut topped the indie charts and reached number 60 in the UK album charts.
The band went on to play Glastonbury Festival amidst much support from Radio 1 DJ John Peel. However, they split in 1986. But they’d soon be back. After reforming in 1990, Half Man Half Biscuit played Reading Festival and released a new single ‘Let’s Not’. But the band would continue to splinter and change. They toured less, the line-up shifted frequently and Blackwell began to explore folk music. During all this, Half Man Half Biscuit maintained a steady stream of releases and have put out 13 albums to date.
They’ve always refused to play the music industry game, Blackwell using his impressive wit for recorded takedowns of the things that rile him. With their contemporaries Gang Of Four and The Fall receiving continued adulation, Half Man Half Biscuit still lurk in the shadows. But they’re much-loved by their fans, a crowd of whom will pack out The Ritz in November.