Duncan Reid & the Big Heads – Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow 6th October 2017

Duncan Reid & the Big Heads

I’d been looking forward to this gig since the 3rd of December last year. Well, technically this gig hadn’t been announced then, but it was the day after the last Duncan Reid gig and I was still pumped. If anyone has followed previous posts they’ll know I rated it as one of my gigs of 2016.

On that occasion the support bands were Mercury long-list nominees The Media Whores and fast rising Scottish punks with a masterplan, Heavy Drapes.

That night saw all 3 bands put in top class performances so the last gig had a lot to live up to.

They have all had a great year since then.

media Whores, Heavy Drapes and Duncan Reid and the Big heads – since last year

As mentioned Media Whores were long-listed for the Mercury Music Prize with their 3rd album, “Dangerous Minds”. Post punk with a conscience, the album is packed full of songs on a variety of subjects with some well-constructed lyrics and the tunes to back them up. I recently interviewed the band – you can read this here.

Heavy Drapes and Duncan Reid & the Big Heads have both gigged relentlessly and had acclaimed performances at this year’s Rebellion Festival. Heavy Drapes with their first appearance on the main stage. Duncan Reid & the Big Heads playing on more than one occasion including an impromptu extra performance. They have also releasing a sumptuous 3rd album in “Bombs Away”.

There had been a lot of promotion and interest in the gig on social media in the run up so the anticipation was undeniable.

Nice n sleazy – 6th October 2017

As I walked into the venue, there were a number of familiar faces outside and a friendly face at the door in “Main” man and gig organiser Alex “Mainy” Main. As I ordered a drink at the bar I noticed that Mainy made a point of making everyone that arrived feel welcome. This was going to be more of an event than a normal gig.


Being the all-round great guy that he is, he’d also arranged a collection for WESTgap. WESTgap are “an anti-poverty community group providing independent advice, information and advocacy relating to welfare rights, housing, homelessness, benefits, sanctions, fuel poverty, work, rent arrears and more.” A fantastic organisation providing an unfortunately much needed service in this day and age. Find out more about them and how you can help on their website.

As I stood and took in the surroundings, noticing the place filling up I was pleased to see how many regular friendly faces there were but also many more that I don’t know. I’m always pleased to see bands well-supported, if we don’t support live music we’ll see bands not able to continue and venues closing as has happened around the UK.

It has already been mentioned on social media, but it was satisfying to see how many members of other bands were in the crowd. I think it says a lot about the respect and high esteem in which Duncan Reid is held.

3 Minute Heroes

And so to the music. I said this wasn’t going to be a normal gig and I was proved right by opening act “3 Minute Heroes”.

A band of which I’ve heard loads of great things but never seen live before. Based on what I saw, it won’t be the last time. To call them a covers band would be doing them a dis-service. Yes, they play covers but they make them their own.

Their set was a run through of classic punk/new wave tracks such as “Sound of the Suburbs”, “Oliver’s Army”, “Beat My Guest” and “Ever Fallen in Love” amongst many others. I have to say one of the highlights of their set for me was a punked up version of ABBA’s “Does Your Mother Know”. They followed that with “Hungry Like the Wolf”. Is it wrong that I knew all the words to both these songs?

That was the audience clearly warmed up.

I mentioned the presence of members of other bands in the audience. It was also great to see the other 2 bands watching and clearly enjoying 3 Minute Heroes set.

Heavy Drapes

Next it was the turn of punks on the rise, and one of last year’s supports, Heavy Drapes. I’ve seen Heavy Drapes on several occasions recently and they just seem to get better and better. This was their second Glasgow gig with new(ish) bassist Paul Research after their appearance at Kiss This in Broadcast in September, his first gig with the band. Paul has settled in well and has added his own influence to the band with his “rollerbass” beefing up the sound.

The band played all the, by now, familiar tracks – all 4 from their debut EP along with other live favourites such as “Janie” and “Lets Free the Working Class”. The latter always has the crowd singing along to the “Up against the wall” refrain and is one of my live favourites.

DeLiberate dedicated “New York” to his dad before the band ripped through the song while he channelled the spirit, filth and fury of Rotten. They romped through “Get Your Head Skrewed On” and fan favourite and often set-closer “I Wanna be Maladjusted”.

That wasn’t the end though, they finished with a fine cover of “Search & Destroy” joined by friend of the band Chris on backing vocals. I’m sure that anyone that was there to see the headline act and caught Heavy Drapes for the first time will be a convert.

Next up for Heavy Drapes – a support slot for many peoples “favourite Pistol” Glen Matlock.

Set list:

Number 1/Should I Suck or Should I Blow/Into the Blue/New York/Janie/Nightrippin’/Hanging Like a Suicide/Muchos Respectos/Lets Free the Working Class/Get Your Head Skrewed on/(I Wanna Be) Maladjusted/Search & Destroy

And so to the main event. Headliners:


Duncan Reid & the Big Heads.

The last time I saw them they provided the lucky gathering with a masterclass in entertainment.

Tonight it was equalled…..and surpassed. The band were ebullient and dynamic throughout the set. Not only are they accomplished musicians and songwriters but they really look as if they are enjoying every minute of what they do.

Kicking off with the high octane opening track from Bombs Away, “Can’t Stop” they maintained the fire and spirit throughout. The title is appropriate as Duncan literally can’t stop, he bounces around the stage with more zest than bands half his age.

Next we’re off for a whistle-stop tour of “Montevideo” and I think we’d all like to join him for cocktails in the Clash City Rockers bar.

Power Punk with Pop Sensibilities

Duncan & the band write tracks that should be blasting from every radio station around the world and they deserve to be massive. Their accomplished power punk with pop sensibilities is addictive and easy to fall in love with. Sophie K Powers is an incredible guitarist, Nick Hughes a welcome addition to the band since the last time I saw them live and Karen Jones the powerhouse at the back keeping things together. And of course Mr Reid, bass genius and vocalist extraordinaire.

Just ask the youngsters (Jesus – how old does that make me sound!) that Mainy brought down from the bar who danced and sang throughout the set even though they had never heard the songs before.

The songs keep coming. The audience hanging on every word – and singing along including perfect “sha la la lee’s” on “C’est La Vie”.

I can’t possibly pick out one highlight in a set that was just one big highlight. “Thinking”, however, is a favourite of mine and as Duncan started the bass line recognised immediately by the gathered masses, it was obvious that it was loved by many more.

“Just Because You’re Paranoid” was introduced as a song he couldn’t imagine being played live when he wrote it, but is now a staple in their live set. Pure pop perfection with its effervescent keyboard parts and its Madness-esque sound.

bombs away!

The bombastic glam stomp that announces “Bombs Away” is another welcome intro and what a song it is. All masterful driving drums from Karen Jones, glam-tastic guitar riffs and melodic ooo-eee-ooo’s but with an eerily ominous message based on the idiot currently in charge at the White House.

And they kept coming…”Kelly’s Gone Insane”, “C’mon Josephine” (co-written with Andrew Matheson) and “That’s Just the Way It Is” continued the high-spirited performance.

Nick Hughes took centre stage and lead vocals for a well-received version of The Boys classic “Brickfield Nights” which resulted in a lively response from the crowd.

A vibrant and spirited “Soda Pressing” followed. Perhaps too vibrant as Duncan managed to break a string on his bass. A short lull ensued while quick repairs and temporary borrowing of Paul’s rollerbass took place. Nick ad-libbed and joked about that being the reason he wasn’t a song writer.

impromptu worm song

While repairs continued we were treated to an impromptu “Worm Song” which brought smiles to faces and an exuberant sing-along.

With borrowed bass, Duncan introduced “a song about 1977…..” before – well you know what song followed then…..

Another Boys classic – “First Time” with Duncan making a foray into the crowd all chanting along to the “oh oh oh” refrain. Phenomenal.

With curfew fast approaching it was a quick punktastic journey around “One Night in Rio” before the last blast of The Boys Hollywood Brats cover “Sick on You”. This saw euphoria breaking out with a pogoing frenzy and vigorous singalong.

There were smiles on faces all around – band and punters – as the gig finished. Tonight was an event that was not to be missed and definitely repeated.

gig of 2017?

I’ve seen some cracking gigs this year. Is this contender for my gig of 2017? You bet it is. Massive kudos to Mainy for putting it on again. What time next year?

As we all drifted away into the night, I met a lovely bloke who had just moved from Hamburg to Hamilton. He’d asked for directions to Central, but I ended up walking down with him. A massive Boys fan, he’d been looking on the internet and came across tonight’s event. He raved about the gig and we had a brilliant chat about the music scene in Glasgow/Scotland, he was stoked about what was coming up. We could have talked for hours! A lovely way to end a superlative evening.

Setlist: Can’t Stop/Montevideo/TCP/C’est La Vie/Baby Doll/Lets Skip to the Good Bit/Thinking/Just Because You’re Paranoid/Rolling On/Bombs Away/Kelly’s Gone Insane/C/mon Josephine/That’s Just the Way it is/Brickfield Nights/Soda Pressing/The Worm Song/’77/First Time/One Night in Rio/Sick on You

One thought on “Duncan Reid & the Big Heads – Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow 6th October 2017”

  1. Brilliant review The GingerQuiff! Well-deserved praise for all the bands. So spot on that I re-lived the whole night again!

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