Duncan Reid and the Big Heads - Live at The Islington, London, 1st October 2014.
Ensconced within the first wave of the mid-1970s UK punk explosion, former The Boys singer and bass player, Duncan ‘Kid’ Reid has witnessed the rise and fall of many musical and cultural tides since the decade which first bore his professional career as a musician. This particular movement saw the demise of many young, talented, musicians caught up in the undertow of fame and punk ethos, damaging themselves and their careers beyond repair. Fortunately, this is a fat Duncan Reid has never been destined for as almost 40 years on, Reid is still making music with his new group The Big Heads; appeasing fans of both old ilk and new alike
It is inside the walls of North London's European-style bar and cafe, The Islington, where we caught Duncan Reid and his band of Big Heads - multi-instrumentalist Alex Gold, drummer Ciara Lavers and stand-in Jade Ellins on guitar - play the first night of a back to back double album launch for the bands new record entitled, "The Difficult Second Album". Dressed in a trademark purple suit and shiny blue Dr Martens (one pair of many in Reid's collection) Reid presents himself as colourful and vibrant frontman who has cultivated an amazing chemistry and stage presence with his fellow musicians. You wouldn't be mistaken to think that Reid has had a change of direction as 'Just As Good As I Used To Be', kicks off the set with slow ballad-esque keys and nostalgic, self depricating, good humoured lyricism as Reid slowly croons "Days spent playing Peter Pan are coming to an end" before returning to the familiar power pop chords and crunches of his former sound with rollicking guitars, drums, quirky harmonies and the confident lull of, "But I'm just as good as I used to be, and boy was I real good". A testament that Reid most certainly lives up to.
The band smouldered (Ellins), smiled (Lavers), and seduced (Reid and Gold) their way through an energetic and invigorating, 21-track set, spanning a collection of songs from "The Difficult Second Album", Reid's first solo album "Little Big Head" a selection from The Boys archive, as well as performing one of Gold's tracks 'Roisin' from his solo material under the moniker of Darling BOY, with a gusto and enthusiasm that made us tired just watching. Reid jumped, jived and rocked out through each punk, power pop, melodic driven track completely in sync with Gold (and probably out-stamina-ed him) with a vigour that by the end of the set had him resembling a soaked sponge-like substance. Reid is a man who loves what he does, performs to perfection, and surrounds himself with artists who share the same passion, talent and enthusiasm. Perhaps the most obviously enticing thing about a live performance from Duncan Reid and the Big Heads is in the instrumentals where each note of each instrument is heard. No one is outshined, underestimated, or underappreciated and the delivery is full of good humour, great connections and good fun. There is no stiffness, no self adoration, and no moody personas. Duncan Reid and the Big Heads are a must-see band for all true music lovers, in any part of the world, any time they are in town.
Words of Karla Harris