Review: Duncan Reid visits Brighton

Duncan Reid

Duncan Reid

Duncan Reid And The Big Heads.

Saturday 4 February at The Prince Albert was set to be a great night of rock n roll. Yeah!

There are only two people in the entire world who can claim to have played with the Ramones while not actually being tagged with the ‘Ramone’ nom-de-plume. Duncan ‘Kid’ Reid is one of those people. As singer and bass player of Joey Ramone’s favourite band, The Boys, Duncan rode on the crest of a wave during punk’s original late-1970s heyday as part of a wider collective of friends and peers that included Sex Pistols, The Clash, Generation X and a host of other power-chord pioneers. The Boys remain one of the best-loved and influential bands of their generation. Fast forward and Duncan’s new group The Big Heads, are powering their way around the globe and astounding audiences from Buenos Aires to Berlin to Dublin and back again. And tonight it was a visit to Brighton!

The Band – The Big Heads

Duncan Reid and the Big Heads are a great band. They produce a tight powerful sound, and tonight they could rightly claim to be just a little bit “big headed”, although I am sure they wont, they played a blinding set and the band members are:

Bass guitar, keyboards and lead vocals: Duncan Reid
Drums: Karen Jones,
Guitar/keys: Sophie Powers,
Guitar and vocals: Nick Hughes.


The Set

Duncan led the band onto the stage at The Prince Albert in Brighton. Outside it was cold and damp. Inside we were packed in tight and it was steaming hot. The band plugged in and Duncan led us into the set with “Cant Stop”, “Montevideo”, “Soda Pressing” and one of the catchiest slices of live music I have heard in a while “C’est La Vie”.  “C’est La Vie” is a track and single from Duncan’s latest album release – The Difficult Second Album. This track is just brimming with a pure catchy energy, guitar riffs, bass lines and a great drum fill. This was only the third song of the set but Duncan, a true master of what he does, had the crowd bopping to this. Usually the crowd gets jumping towards the end of a set, not tonight! This in turn pumped up the steam heat and Duncan removed his trademark purple jacket.

It was hot in there and the venue was filled with happy sweaty faces. The heat didn’t stop Duncan. He proved to be one of the most difficult musicians to photograph – in a nice way – as he threw shapes at us, danced and jumped his way through the entire set.

Duncan Reid and Sophie Powers

Duncan Reid and Sophie Powers

Every so often Duncan would sling his Rickenbacker bass behind him, hanging towards the floor like a wild west gunslinger, and take to the keyboards. Not for long though, the guitar would be spun back into place and Duncan was back center stage!

Between the sections of the set Duncan actually managed to stand still, well nearly, and chatted away to the crowd. He gave us reflections of his past and backgrounds to some of the material and of course introduced us to his incredibly talented band. Sophie had just undergone an operation on her wrist and Nick had filled in for the tour at short notice. You would never have guessed and huge respect to Duncan and his band for their performance.

We were then given another section of older and newer material including “Baby Doll” and the fabulous “C’mon Josephine”. His lyrics are full of humour and life observations and always backed up with sharp guitar rolls from the band and all the while Duncan hammers those powerful bass lines to keep everyone jumping. The Big Heads continued to just get down to business and do exactly what they do. This is rock n roll and a chance for the band and the crowd to have fun. “Rolling on” and “Bombs Away” were up next.


The Boys

Duncan stopped, grabbed some water and chatted to us about the punk era and then started the next section with a classic selection “77” is a song from his first solo album. From The Boys the band came at us fast with with “I Don’t Care” and  “First Time”. These songs are classics from the punk era and fitted into Duncan’s set perfectly and delivered with all the atmosphere and style of the original recordings. I had never seen The Boys live and so a real privilege to hear these songs now.  Duncan and his vocals don’t seem to have changed a bit from those recordings and You Tube videos! What really hit me was the fact that he really seemed to be enjoying himself and the atmosphere he and the band created as the set progressed.

Its all over!

Sadly, looking at the set list “lets Skip To The Good Bit” and “Sick On You” should have brought the 30 minute session to a close. The Albert was on a curfew close time and those songs couldn’t be played. Will have to see them again to see those songs live.  The band received a huge cheer and a long lasting, well deserved, round of applause. I didn’t want the set to end and clearly the crowd felt the same! This was a rare visit to Brighton for Duncan Reid, but he hopes to be back soon. He is also taking part in the Undercover 5 festival at Margate this year.

A great night and it was great to meet and chat with Duncan pre and after gig. A huge thank you to Duncan, and the brilliant Big Heads for allowing me to get some pictures of a most memorable night. My advice – well, just go see them! Grab a copy of the album, it is really rather good, and yes purple vinyl!


Duncan Reid is on the web

Duncan Reid is on Facebook

Promoter: Punker Bunker











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All pictures – copyright to IANB/MEDIA WORKS/ Scene Sussex/ Ian “The Lens” Bourn 2017.