12

Cult favourites take Welsh capital by storm.

Cult heroes Half Man Half Biscuit don't have to work very hard to win over tonight's audience of the already converted, but front man Nigel Blackwell works them until even the most hardened are carried along under his spell. This gig (even without the presence of guitarist Ken Hancock) is a rare treat for the Cardiff fans, most being unable to remember the last time the band paid a visit to Wales, and there is a palpable atmosphere of anticipation in the air.

They take the stage at this sold out venue without the aid of a warm up band tonight but they don't seem to need one, Blackwell has done his homework; charming the Welsh audience with snippets of Welsh, stories about holidays in Wales when he was a kid, and even at one point resorting to a version of the national anthem which results in a hearty sing-along session they really pull out all the stops. HMHB's charm comes in part from Blackwell's brilliant lyrics: musing comedic and very cleverly woven little tales about the small 'normal' things in British life, his down to earth and matter of fact approach means that the tracks always contain something everyone in the room can connect to and at the very least they make you smile. They are a band that rely on a measure of post-modern nerdiness from their fans; by creating tunes that weave in 'samples' of other songs taken out of context and manipulating them to their own post-punk ends (always sporting new and very funny lyrics), the audience gets a kick out of sharing the joke.

HMHB's set of folky/ indie/ punk is tonight full of favourites like 'The Trumpton Riots' and 'Bad Review' and spans their back catalogue all the way back to 'Time Flies By (When You're The Driver Of A Train)' from 1985 album "Back In The D.H.S.S." to newer tracks like 'Joy Division Oven Gloves' from 2005's "Achtung Bono". Their songs sparkle, and haven't lost any of their wit or bite and the band clearly still enjoy playing all of them. This is a band that really come into their own in a live setting, songs that are already clever and funny on record benefit from Blackwell's deft handling of over excited hecklers and his little asides; and looking around the venue towards the end of their hour and a half set (which feels much shorter) there isn't a person not laughing and nodding in recognition.