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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Duncan Reid & the Big Heads - 13th Note - 18/01/14 (Glasgow)

A matinee show you say.
Oh why not. In for a penny, in for a pound, and with that itsaxxxxthings first gig of 2014 was booked.

So not long after lunch time on a Saturday - while others were adding to the rising stock shares of Primark - here we all were in the 13th Note sheltering from the reality of the outside world and looking to indulge in the fantasy of rock and roll for a few hours.

Monsterpop – the solo alter ego of Jimmy Devlin – opened the day with an unsurprisingly accomplished set of power pop originals. (Unsurprisingly accomplished as he’s been around the block a few times and has an excellent ear for a hook.) Anyone who had pulled themselves away from the upstairs bar early doors was certainly provided with an aural treat.
With just his voice and an electric guitar he’s able to run rings around some full bands.
Usually the idea of one man doing power pop raises a few eyebrows as it is a sound that lends itself to a full band, yet five minutes into a set and any preconceived concerns are very easily brushed off as the material and delivery speaks for itself.
As is the norm when an original artist is looking to draw some appreciation from a cold audience they throw in a couple of familiar songs, and both the Sex Pistols and Welsh rockers Badfinger were given the Monsterpop treatment to great effect.
With the future plans for the project including some full band shows it would be fair to say that those who are already impressed with the solo outings so far are going to have a great deal of awesome to wrap their heads around soon.

Party Asylum are a band growing up in public, and with that those who have witnessed them a few times are seeing an incrementally improvement with every gig.
There’s a bit of the Runaways in the sound, but it’s still comfortable residing in the garage, and then without missing a beat the band can step up close to the punk grunge of L7 while maintaining an eye on some bubblegum pop.
It can sound a bit schizophrenic, but pretty much all of it is working, and the bits that are maybe falling a bit short are reaching for the prize so it’s all good.
Songs seem to be getting dropped from their set while newer ones are being added at a rapid pace with this highlighting that artistically they are going through a growth spurt.
Given the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time Party Asylum could surprise a few people and break out from the local scene in the way The Amazing Snakeheads have.
Keep an eye out for their name under the ‘ones to watch’ headlines.
There aren’t that many bands who can blaze their way through twenty odd minutes of music and in doing so draw the reaction of one promoter and a record label to them, but that’s what Party Asylum did.

It’s with no hint of embarrassment that I can lay claim to publicly shouting from a few rooftops that the Media Whores released one of the best albums of the year in late 2013, and as it is still bedding in with people it’s continuing to garner one rave review after another with each positive word lending credence to my early ravings.
I’m personally very pleased to see a band that I placed some faith in consistently proving me right.
Forget mainstream success, and just simply consider artistic credibility and the band are there.
One of the reasons that the band are doing so well is very obviously down to them being able to walk the walk though.
If you deliver in the studio you have to add a dimension to the songs live that gets an audiences blood pumping and the boys are doing exactly that with every show they play
With every gig that they tuck under their belts they are killing it.
Their ability to use punk rock as a springboard to leap from into a melting pot of influences is a joy to experience.

The day was always going to belong to Duncan Reid though.
I could be wrong - it is known to happen – but I think the last time he graced Glasgow with his presence was when his band The Boys opened for the Ramones in the legendary Apollo.
Since then he’s hit every corner of the globe wielding his bass and scissor kicking his way across stages large and small.
However the sidekick role has now been firmly set aside, and with his band ‘The Big Heads’ he has set out to grab some of the spotlight for himself.
It only took thirty five years of writing, but with his debut he has the material, and the band, to make more than just a credible effort at keeping it shining on him.
What he is doing is far less than the busmans holiday that some may think. Instead it’s a clear move to lay the foundations for a career move that couldn’t be described as one that simply wants to tread water.
I will hazard a guess that during the process of writing and recording, and now playing live, the thought at the forefront of Duncans mind was/is how he could take an attitude and sound that some already think of as perfect and take it to the next stage, or ultimately that the project wasn’t worth doing at all.
If I am right then he can rest easy at night knowing that he, and his band, have achieved just that.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding though, and on a dreacht* Saturday afternoon he shook the foundations of the 13th Note and garnered fistfuls of younger fans who until that day probably didn’t have much knowledge of his past endeavors, while keeping the faith of those a bit longer in the tooth.
A more difficult balancing trick than some may think.
It is this ability to take original music out there and secure peoples attentions from cold that can’t really be stressed enough though.
Past efforts meant little and everything they played was judged in the here and now and was found not to fall short in any way.
With a blistering set that had confidence in the material from his debut they took those who were there by the hand and led them on a merry dance.
The Boys tracks were of course a welcome addition, but refreshingly there was no move to hang the rest of the set off them as if they were a nostalgic coat hook.
If there was ever a gig that deserves to reside in the ‘you should have been there’ conversations then this was it.
First gig of the year for me and the benchmark is already set ridiculously high.

* Scottish word for an overcast, dull and wet day.

Photographs by Gobo Photography. More form the show and Hi Res versions can be found here


  1. Fantastic gig in every way Mainy, roll on more Saturday afternoon gigs!

  2. magic mate! im really glad it was a success;-)