Someone once told me that I always appear to select quality bands for a line up.
Now don’t worry as this isn’t a self congratulating ego massage about to kick off as I replied that it’s not that difficult to do as there is a wealth of talent out there.
I can only take partial credit as maybe I have a good ear. (Just the one and it is on the right. The left listens to a great deal of shit. Mainly it’s from other people.)
The real kudos has to go to the artists themselves.
Great bands are everywhere.
Great bands like Duncan Reid and the Big Heads, The Media Whores and Heavy Drapes, who can all separately make an audience swoon, and collectively take things to a whole new level of gig going experience.
You know that game where people ask you to name your dream line up and everyone picks the last three great artists who have died as if Michael Eavis is booking a festival for God?
Currently it is Bowie, Cohen and Greg Lake.
Well keeping in the land of the living the above line up is the one that would do the job, and coincidently they all just played in Audio in Glasgow.
Heavy Drapes, a band who evolved from the should-a could-a certainly deserved to be-a Baby’s Got A Gun, who had a dalliance with a major, and opened for the likes of Bowie’s Tin Machine and proto punk legends The New York Dolls opened the night.
And as curriculum vitae go that is a rather sterling one, and the ultimate stumble that seen them fail to gain mass adulation was really one of the rock and roll suits dropping the ball rather than anything to do with them.
It’s the sort of credentials that others would gladly sever and arm for, and of course it is a cool story, but it is the here and now matters most and Heavy Drapes are certainly not looking to live in the shadow of past glories.
Instead they sound like the bastard offspring of a Sex Pistols and Oasis love in.
The sneeringly fantastic Garry spits out song after song that sounds like Liam Gallagher getting a solid rodgering from Rotten while Steve Jones tries to sweet talk Noel into bed by reciting Dead Boys lyrics to him.
It’s not a bad combination, and while some may think it’s a calculated approach by the band, as they are pilfering from two of the biggest UK bands to exist after the Beatles, it does work.
In fact saying it works is an understatement.
They are the filth and the fury unleashed.
A four piece whose raison d’etre is to win our hearts and minds by committing to the shock and awe approach to performing rock and roll.
And on this occasion they were set openers.
That’s just mad isn’t it?
An act that is realistically a headliner opening a gig, but that is just testament to the quality of the bill.
And then there are The Media Whores.
Fresh from playing in front of over a thousand Damned fans in Glasgow’s ABC as special guests on the bands fortieth anniversary tour this was them revisiting the smaller stage to do it all again.
And no one does social commentary with such style and panache.
Forget your UK82 punk warriors who repeatedly shout guttural slogans that are barely understandable from beneath the black anarchy flag.
These guys are more inclined to lean towards telling you the pen is mightier than the sword before they eloquently prove the point on songs that cover everything from fracking to eating disorders while never forgetting that the message has to have a beat.
If you want lowest common denominator punk rock then you are knocking on the wrong door.
In this post truth world this band are the breath of fresh air that is needed, and in many ways a voice of reason.
And yes that all sounds rather po-faced, but the band are not a party political broadcast with guitars.
Instead they are a raucous and glorious blast of noise that powers along revealing flashes of glam rock, post punk angularism and humour a plenty.
In so many ways they are everything that they shouldn’t be.
Bucking trends is their business and business is good.
This leaves us with the purple one, the one that still has a pulse, the mighty, the unbeatable, the unstoppable Duncan Reid.
This is now twice that I have seen him with his Big Heads and twice I have been blown away with how tight they are as a unit.
There’s not a second passes that they are not offering a master class in how to perform live.
Musician friends have one of two reactions when watching them play.
One is that they just accept that the quality bar has been raised and they now have something to aim for every single time they step on a stage.
The other is that creeping ego bruising realization that they aren’t in this band and it might be a while before they could honestly say they would be ready to fill any of their shoes.
It’s small, but very telling things that happen during the set that highlight just how good they are.
At one point Duncan’s glasses fly from his pocket and he stops playing to retrieve them.
There’s no indication he is going to stop mid song, but on cue everything stops.
Literally everyone stops playing simultaneously.
Duncan makes a joke about needing reading glasses and then resumes playing.
There is no nod to his bandmates, nor is there a count in; there are no little signs shared to begin again.
It’s completely fluid.
It’s akin to a needle being lifted from the groove and then returned to it.
That's how tight they are.
And then there are the songs.
Two albums into his solo career, and the third about to be released, and there is still no slack on show.
The all killer and no filler mantra is being adhered to.
Classic song after classic song is performed, and while some may have a less than positive understanding of what is often referred to as power pop, it is in reality no poor second cousin once removed from some subjective view of what is good, because power pop is rooted in The Beatles, The Kinks and so many more greats.
There’s nothing throwaway about it and the proof is in the material that Duncan Reid and the Big Heads have recorded and perform up and down this country, across Europe, and anywhere else that people with good taste reside.
The days of his being the beat of the The Boys are long gone.
That era is a distant speck in the rear view mirror that is about to slip below the horizon.
I’m sure it is a fond memory and of course the hits get slipped into the set, but while still vibrant and relevant they are really just an acknowledgment of the past rather than being included to keep one foot there.
The real power lies in the solo material.
Montevideo. Kelly’s Gone Insane, Baby Doll, One Night in Rio and Can’t Stop – which was being debuted on this tour, are all prime examples of why Duncan Reid & the Big Heads are a top of their game act.
They aren’t interested in jumping aboard a nostalgia train to visit yesteryear.
This is the real deal and it is being played out on stages right now.
One participant of the evening has already publicly shared the sentiment that you had to be there, and they are right.
You did, and if you weren’t then that’s okay.
Just don’t miss any of them if the opportunity arises again.