It's not often a musician will announce their retirement at the very top of their game - certainly not hot on the heels after the release of what could possibly be their best album to date. Definitely not when they look as fit, healthy and energetic as many people half their age (let alone most of their contemporaries) and have a young, charismatic and popular band backing them up. But that's exactly what former Boys bassist and co-vocalist Duncan Reid has done, announcing in advance that this Lexington show will be the very last time himself, or the fabulous Big Heads will be appearing live. Yes, it is true, he is hanging up his purple Duncanbacker bass for good. The decision certainly came out of the blue (or purple...) and took the majority of fans by surprise, making the atmosphere at the sold-out Lexington a bit weird at first, especially when the band hit the stage with their customary energy and slammed into the brilliant "Your Future Ex-Wife" and you could sense everyone thinking the same thing - "why the hell are they packing it in now!?" Duncan then announced the bad news that unfortunately, guitarist Sophie Powers had been told by her doctors not to play due to a wrist injury, but then the good news was that she was going to make an appearance on a few songs throughout the evening anyway.
So, Heidi Cotton deputised for Sophie alongside regular Big Heads, guitarist Nick Hughes and drummer Karen Jones but it wasn't long before Sophie joined in on the fun, hair flying everywhere and trading riffs with her guitar sparring partner Nick. There's such a great energy and chemistry between the band, they seem to be having as much fun as us in the crowd are. In fact, Sophie did end up playing on most of the songs, so I am sure she will have suffered the next morning. There are some special guests, former Chelsea and Gene Loves Jezebel guitarist James Stevenson joined in for "The One" and previous Big Heads drummer Ciara takes her place behind the kit for a superb run through of "Kelly's Gone Insane". We get a pick of tracks from Duncan's debut solo album "Little Big Head" and then from each of his four albums with the Big Heads "The Difficult Second Album", "Don't Blame Yourself", "Bombs Away" and the superb new one "And It's Goodbye From Him". My personal highlights included "Montevideo", "Listening To The Beach Boys" and a blistering "C'est La Vie" along with the early Boys track "Soda Pressing".
Unfortunately, they didn't play my all-time favourite track "Gotta Call Simone" after all, we loved it so much, over ten years ago now we named Episode 9 of Retrosonic Podcast after a line from the song, "I'm Going Crazy, Need a Shot of You", but I guess the twenty one other brilliant melodic guitar pop nuggets in the set-list more than made up for its omission. The thoroughly entertaining night ends with a chaotic blast through The Boys classic "First Time" with Nick playing keyboards on his shoulder and the whole thing degenerating into an emotional singalong. The band then have their photos taken in front of their adoring fans and that's it, they skip off stage to rapturous applause, unfortunately for the very last time. Well, I must admit it was a somewhat bittersweet night and with so much negativity and cynicism in the world today, not to mention the amount of dull soulless bands treading the boards, it's quite sad to think we are losing one hell of a special good-time Rock 'n' Roll band that puts smiles on people's faces and guarantees you a great night out. But the memories of such nights remain and we can only be thankful for them and wish Duncan and the Big Heads all the best with whatever comes next in the future.
I hope to ask Duncan about the reasons behind his decision to call it a day in an upcoming Retrosonic Podcast so please keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, you can listen to our Retrosonic Podcast "Lockdown Lowdown" special episode from a few years ago with Duncan discussing some of his favourite songs and influences and a pick of his own material, it's available in our archives at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts or direct from our SoundCloud site below.
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