Nick at The Hop and Grape (MUSU), Manchester,
Sunday 28 April 2002 - by Maggie Hornby (ace HHOH reporter!)

Photo by Maggie Hornby

Standing alone at the front of the stage with a round of drinks balanced between the wedges and the cables, I was grateful to see my comrades Mark, Rona and Carly emerge through the black double doors to join me. I'd somehow "lost" them while powdering my nose which resulted in me having to phone them in the bar downstairs to find out their whereabouts! I don't remember Nick having played here before, as he's usually at The Witchwood on the outskirts of Manchester.

The venue soon started to fill, many opting to sit cross-legged on the floor. No support act tonight so it was on with the show at 8.30 prompt. For those interested Nick was wearing a black checked shirt, grey combat trousers and black suede shoes! [thus continuing the great Squeezefan tradition of the fashion report ;) - Paula]

He greeted us with, "Morning, would you like to sit or stand?" A moment's confusion amongst the crowd at this point but stand we all did as the stage was relatively high.

Without further ado, Nick launched straight into A Hundred Things, Shadowlands and She Rules My World. There then followed the story of "Mother Nature, the weather and the neurons in my brain" (check out Double Life for just one version!). There was plenty of dancing to Karmageddon then appropriate calm for Radio Silence and the best ever Guitar Man/Led Zeppelin riffs I've heard yet. This was a slightly different set list to the Edinburgh gig, two weeks ago.

Next came Building Our Own Temple, a very gentle Smithereens and the completely reverberating Everything's Better. I didn't recognise the instumental Nick played, serves me right for not having the CD I suppose! [might have been Like Punk Never Happened - Paula] I loved the new song, Here Today Here Tomorrow.

The atmosphere in the crowd was lively and encouraging, with plenty of "Go on Nick, yeah"'s during the impressive guitar solos and not a lot of chat during the gentler numbers. My husband had already jokingly warned a friend of ours taking guitar lessons, "After tonight, you'll not bother going again." Happily, that is not the case!

We were then treated to The Galaxy Song and the longest, gutsiest intro to Headless imaginable. Time for Nick to catch his breath then he returned for the encore. There were requests for The Verse Time Forgot and The Tyger, to which he replied, "Oh yes, I forgot!" No matter, he played a lovely song he had written for his daughter [in Skerray during the Scottish tour - heavenly! - Paula], and the climax was the Zappa favourite Titties And Beer.

Needless to say, we were all anxious to get our hands on the new double live album on the way out, which he graciously signed for me. When I asked a regular how he thought it compared with other gigs, all he could say was, "Too stunning." I'd have to agree.

See Maggie's other photos from this gig here

Updated 9 June 2002
© MH/PLC 2002