I almost missed this one! Not because I failed to buy a ticket in time, no – I had that in plenty of time but a busy week had caught up with me and I snoozed early Friday evening. I woke up realising that if I was going to this gig I’d have to hurry, and so a bleary-eyed correspondent soon dashed off to the city centre for this gig. The place was already busy, the tour (dubbed ‘Beerhemian Rhapsody’ and themed loosely on Queen) had seen several shows sell out. This one was one of them, much to the delight of Dickie Ticker and company who have been making regular stop-offs to this venue for several years now.
I’d missed Stu Penders and Spladoosh! by this time, but they always open the show seeing as Penders himself and his two bandmates do look somewhat familiar (!) so there’s no doubt I’ll catch the King of Clubland another time. Coming the night after the General Election the mood in this part of the world wasn’t exactly bright given the result, and no doubt many were looking to Bernard, Dickie, Bob, Kenny, Billy and Dr Ron Seal to give us all something to smile about. They had a 2D cutout of Freddie Mercury at the back of the stage, and when the band came on it was to the strains of ‘One Vision’ – all six were in Mercury masks! Even more bizarrely, they actually opened the set with a faithful cover of ‘We Will Rock You’ before commencing the usual Lancastrian tomfoolery. Frontman Bernard Thresher completed the Queen theme by wearing the iconic yellow jacket, topped off with his usual flat cap (!)
The rest of the night was a celebration of all things dear to we Northerners, from ‘Let’s Get Leathered’ to shopping in IKEA (‘I Fear Ikea’) and consuming hearty meals regardless of what the dieticians say (‘You Could Get Hit By A Bus Tomorrow’, ‘Egg, Sausage Chips & Beans’), while Bernard ‘encouraged’ a detente between the North and the South before performing ‘We Love The North’ – he wasn’t entirely successful in deterring jeers at any Southerners who may have been present (!)
Many Hotpots favourites were delivered, and for anyone reading who is from a certain international sporting body, they performed a song now called ‘The Beer International Non-Profit, Non-Governmental Sporting Quad-Yearly Event’ (honest!) while poking fun at said sporting body for their ‘cease and desist’ letter they sent to the band! As ever, ‘Chippy Tea’ closed out the main set before an encore of several songs included ‘Christmas in Lancashire’ and the rarely-performed ‘straight’ song ‘Carry You Home’. That one was preceded by bassist Bob Wriggles urging us all ‘not to give up hope’ – that was as political as they got, but we all understood where Bob was coming from. The usual singalong of ‘Shopmobility Scooter’ with ‘Hey Jean’ (‘Hey Jude’) interpolated then followed, closing things with ‘Do The Dad Dance’.
These guys always bring good cheer wherever they go and this show was the perfect tonic. They like to style themselves as a bunch of nutters, Bernard would have you believe they’re not like ‘proper bands’. They’re not fooling anyone, these are seriously good players behind all the comic bluster. They’ve outlasted quite a few ‘proper bands’ in their time though, and I can think of a few other more celebrated acts who’d have liked to see as many ‘sold out’ signs as the Hotpots managed this tour.
Something tells me that the humour that the Lancastrian lads provide will be needed more than ever in coming years, and as long as they keep coming around I’ll be there to cheer – even if it means wallowing in ‘the austerity blues’ in order to do so!