LIVE REVIEW: Half Man Half Biscuit, Sonnenburg @ Boiler Shop, Newcastle (26.04.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Some support slots can be thankless tasks when you have a headliner with an especially rabid following (just check in with the numerous shell-shocked openers for Depeche Mode over the years). Which is to say that Sonnenburg’s vaguely psychedelic singer-songwriter shtick may not attract much of an extreme response for positive or negative reasons, but you must feel some pity for the poor sod gamely plodding on while a thousand punters eagerly ignore him.

While Half Man Half Biscuit’s modus operandi has become well defined by over thirty years of service – Nigel Blackwell’s brilliant, acerbic, class and culture puncturing lyrics backed by stripped down punk and folk rock – there’s still a surprise in store for the night, as Blackwell has (for reasons unknown: Blackwell himself offers a few possibilities of differing plausibility to the audience) forgone guitar duties for the night.

Blackwell may visibly be learning how to be a frontman on the spot, but the trio of Neil Crossley, Carl Henry and recent recruit Karl Benson keep the ship more than afloat for a lengthy, career-spanning setlist packed full of highlights. From setlist staples like The Trumpton Riots and Joy Division Oven Gloves, latter-day work like Every Time A Bell Rings and possible career pinnacle National Shite Day to surprise choices like Running Order Squabble Fest, this twenty-nine song marathon is every bit as energetic, hilarious and idiosyncratic as you would hope from this most unique of cult bands.

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