Friday, 26 July 2013

Duncan Reid & The Big Heads live at The 12 Bar Club July 20th

Duncan Reid live at the 12 Bar Club - Photo by Paul Slattery
So, it was back up to the 12 Bar Club again which is fast becoming our favourite venue and hang-out in London, this time to see a solo show by Duncan Reid, the bassist from The Boys. Duncan is promoting his excellent new album “Little Big Head”, which effortlessly continues on from The Boys impressive legacy of timeless melodic song-writing, packed full of harmonies and memorable choruses. It really is one of those perfect albums – from the sequencing of the songs, the depth and strength of the song-writing, the overall sound and punch of the production and the great cover art photography by David Apps, who has already featured on the Blog and Retrosonic Podcast in his own right. The whole package is faultless and I was looking forward to hearing the songs live.

The Feathers with added Spizz - Photo by Paul Slattery
Support on the night came from The Feathers, who feature Danie on guitar and vocals, decked out with spiky red hair and a union jack tailcoat jacket, looking like an extra from Derek Jarman’s “Jubilee”. Dazzle is on drums and multi-coloured haired Molly, none other than Spizz’s daughter on bass and vocals, and they kicked up a great Glam-Punk racket. It was fun and raw and featured a stage invasion for a sing-along “When Was the Last Time You Had Sex” and then an appearance from Molly's proud dad Spizz, who joined the band for a rendition of Spizzenergi's classic “Amnesia". The Feathers are a really enjoyable band and well worth checking out.  

Duncan and Anna - Photo by Paul Slattery
Duncan Reid took to the tiny 12 Bar stage, and slammed into the great “Montevideo” from the new album, it’s clear from the start that Duncan has lost none of his trademark energy as he leaps around the stage, slinging his bass around, he looks remarkably youthful. It is then into “TCP”, The Boys tribute to the Ramones and the trusty remedy to acne. “She’s a Handful” is taken from the “Mattless Boys” album that Duncan did with Honest John Plain. They called it that as a joke because all The Boys played on it apart from Matt Dangerfield. Two more excellent songs from the new “Little Big Head” album follow “Aren’t Women Wonderful” and “Thinking”, which with its rumbling slow bass build up and clever word-play is one of the night’s highlights. The band then give a sprightly work-out to The Undertones “Teenage Kicks”, with guitarist Alex Gold taking over on lead vocals and the song fits in perfectly with the night’s set-list. “Too Late” the piano led ballad follows and then Alex is back on lead vocals to sing one of his own songs “Oh Roisin”, released under the band name Darling Boy, it’s a nice gesture by Duncan and the song is warmly received. “I’m fed up with telling everyone that Alex is not my son” Duncan quips, and there is no denying there is a resemblance, not only in appearance, but in the quality song-writing stakes too. 

Alex and Duncan - Photo by Paul Slattery
I think Duncan has assembled a great band around him, and there is undoubted chemistry amongst them all, but in particular with Alex as they trade riffs and synchronised guitar-hero leaps and poses, it’s very entertaining. I knew that Alex performed as a singer-songwriter in his own right and also continues the fine work laid down by the now sadly defunct Word Magazine by promoting “Word In Your Ear” gigs and events for ex-Magazine subscribers, along with the magazine’s founders David Hepworth and Mark Ellen. I asked Duncan about the rest of the band and he explained, “Tom, the drummer is a young school friend of Alex and they grew up together in Redditch. Guitarist Anna, I met in Germany, she was in a band with Vom Richie from Die Toten Hosen called Wet Dog. Tom is allergic to vegetables, Alex is a vegetarian and Anna doesn't do milk or nuts. Promoters all over Europe are pulling their hair out when asked to feed us..!” They are a multi-talented bunch – Anna is also an excellent guitarist, a supercool presence to Duncan’s left, who takes over on bass when Duncan plays the keyboards and then Alex also covers on keyboards – in fact, Tom’s the only one who doesn’t swap instruments throughout the gig! It’s great to see a solo artist performing, not just with a backing band, but as a band, if you get my drift, and this becomes apparent on the great track “Kelly’s Gone Insane”, which tonight surpasses the already pretty-damn-near-perfect recorded version. Alex takes over lead vocals again for a rabble-rousing sing-along of arguably, The Boys finest moment, “Brickfield Nights” before we have a bit of a breather with “All Fall Down”. 

Alex, Duncan, Anna and Tom - Photo by Paul Slattery
Another great rocker from the new album, “77” follows, and then there is a trio of classic Boys numbers to end the set, “I Don’t Care”, “Box Number” and a fantastic “First Time”, which sparks off mass outbreaks of air-guitar and singing from the crowd….great stuff! Of course, following such an excellent performance there are calls for an encore and we are treated to “Gotta Call Simone” from the new album, which you can also hear on our new Retrosonic Podcast, The Boys’ “Terminal Love” which morphs into “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and it's list of Rock 'n' Roll casualties. Then to cap it all, a rowdy finale of The Yobs comedy Punk classic “The Worm Song” and “Sick On You” which was a Boys track originally performed way back when they were The Hollywood Brats. What an excellent show, packed full of so many memorable songs and a superb energetic performance from Duncan Reid and his band, The Big Heads – the buzz around the 12 Bar and the smiles on the crowd’s faces afterwards were certainly testament to that. 

Duncan Reid at the 12 Bar Club - Photo by Paul Slattery
With thanks to Paul Slattery for the great photos - you can see more photos by heading over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hitting "Like", for access to the Photo Album. For more info, news and updates please check out Duncan Reid's official web-site, Alex Gold's Darling Boy web-site and The Feathers Facebook page. You can hear a track from Duncan Reid's excellent new album "Little Big Head" in our brand new Episode 8 of Retrosonic Podcast below:


  1. Thanks so much for the mention! :)

  2. The line up was arranged for my husbands 50th as the feathers spizz and duncan are all friends of ours and have to say they all put on truly magnificent performances and complemented each other perfectly it was a memorable night and it sounds as though you enjoyed it as much as we did! Great review - thank you