A Review from the Valleys

Last week we played Bristol, Boardmasters Festival (to huge acclaim I must add)  and Abertillery in the beautiful valleys of Wales. A fella called John Lovell was in Bristol and Wales. We had a chat at both shows and afterwards he sent me this review. “Please rewrite it”, he said, “and don’t mention my name”. Clearly a man of great confidence.

In fact, I enjoyed the piece which evoked the evening so much I didn’t change a word. And, as for not mentioning his name, …………. Ooops!

Here it is:

A Lunchtime Superstar and his Big Heads…

Without being labelled a stalker this was the second time I’d seen Duncan Reid and the Bigheads over the August weekend.

First being at the Louisiana in Bristol on Thursday.

There was a third gig at the huge Boardmasters festival in Cornwall but I gave this a miss (the thought of mixing with 50,000 unkempt surfers and teenagers!).

I’d seen this line up of Duncan Reid, Nick Hughes, Karen Jones and Sophie K Powers a few times over the past year and they are by far the best.

I knew the band were playing Bristol from their Facebook page but didn’t know about Abertilly (as the non Welsh speaking pronounce it) till after reading an article in the South Wales Argus by Leah Powell.

Abertillery met me with a greeting of typical Welsh sunshine. It was pouring down!

Welsh Rain
Rain closes in over the beautiful Welsh hills

I eventually found The Dolls House via the satnav and surprised myself by the location and surroundings.

The Dolls House
The Dolls House, Abertillery (note the car crash: Welsh drivers are adventurous)

Houses and mountains. Loads and loads of big Welsh wet mountains with lashings of rain.

Third gig for the band and a very different view.

Bristol with all the shops and road works and, I expect, Boardmasters with sunshine and blue sea.

Paid a few quid to a guy on the door and got a nice black stamp on the back of my hand. No ticket stub to add to my memorabilia.

The venue was downstairs, a compact area with a small stage, bar, dance floor, tables and chairs at the back which the bands used as a set up for their merchandise.

Met and had time to chat to Duncan who always finds time to talk. Usually the chat is after the gig.

The first of the two support acts went on and one song didn’t half sound like Honest John Plain’s “New Guitar “…

When they completed their set, Duncan chatted about songs he had written for his forthcoming fourth Big Head record.

The second support act (Plague UK) played and that’s when it struck me that The Bigheads wouldn’t be on till way past 10pm.

I’d put some pics on facebook from Bristol with the title “First Time I’d seen Duncan Reid and the Bigheads sober”: very ambiguous.

This time we all were sober (all driving home after), and first time I’d had free drinks in a pub even if it was only soda water.

The band opened with “Can’t Stop”, straight into “Montevideo”, “Soda Pressing” and “C’est La Vie”.

Then came “Baby Doll”, ”Let’s Skip to the Good Bit”, “Thinking” and “Just Because You’re Paranoid”.. but for the love of me can’t remember the banter during the pause in “Thinking”..

They were speeding through them and it wouldn’t have been believed that they had previously played the West of England and traveled hundreds of miles.

Cod piece in Wales
“Speeding through them” with a sock down the trousers!

“Rolling On” was next and there was some banter which included new lyrics featuring tequila and almost a version of rawhide!

It was hot, humid and sweaty. Duncan took his jacket off and chatted about the travels of the Welsh flag seen at many a gig.

Welsh Flag
The Welsh Flag gets another outing

 

He was going to speak some Welsh taught to him by Sophie, the non-rude translation being “I love to eat cornish cheese bell quays”. The literal translation is not fit for a family publication!

An introduction of the band members followed and somehow they all became Jones or Evans: quite apt for Abertillery.

The venue like many others is under threat from residents which seems a little unfair as the wedding party from upstairs joined in, but to the disappointment of the band, failed to bring down any food.

Looking round there were wedding guests dancing in the hall and children’s faces pressed against the doors’ glass windows.

People started to drift in after hearing the music blasting onto the street.

Not sure but maybe those living nearby opened their windows. Rain or no rain, I would have. Maybe the Bigheads saved the Doll?

“Rolling on” was followed by “Bombs Away” which saw Duncan throw in some well-rehearsed choreography moves pointing to each guitar player.

Some more “Boys” tunes followed in “Brickfield” and “First Time” which got the crowd singing and jumping, and “Terminal love”, the Old Grey Whistle Test guitar version, my favourite.

Duncan joined the crowd during “First Time” doing well to avoid the water on the floor from the air conditioning unit above the front of the stage.

After a few more it was into the encore: “That’s the Way it is”, “Shortest Song in the World” (three times), “One Night in Rio” and “Sick on You”.

One of the best performances from the band I have seen and, looking at their smiles and the body language between them all, they did as well.

At the end they looked exhausted.  I took about five photos of the evening: unknown for me to take so few, and the reason why? It’s hard to snap when you’re singing and jumping.

I know they went down well with a good Welsh crowd from seeing the people round the merchandise table at the end of the gig.

They liked The Kid and hope he comes back with his Big Heads sometime in the future, and there is a future for The Dolls House.

So, a fourth album in the pipeline, the songs are gonna have to be belters to get any chance featuring in any future Big Heads sets..

Sorry Duncan you’re going to have to play the set faster or longer 😉

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