Monday, 7 September 2015

22/8/2015 Duncan Reid & The Big Heads + Department S @ The Lexington

This is the first Some Weird Sin club night I've been to since their old venue the Buffalo Bar in Highbury closed earlier this year. The club is still looking for a new home but has been having a few nights at other venues in the meantime. Tonight they are at The Lexington on Pentonville Road. It's a large pub venue with a decent sized room upstairs where the bands play. There is a bar upstairs, but the beverage selection isn't that great - although some decent real ales are available downstairs. Unfortunately the bar prices here have climbed noticeably over the past year or so and the ales can no longer be described as reasonably priced. Otherwise, it's rather a nice music venue. Some Weird Sin nights are always cheap on the door and even in a bigger venue with a 'name' headline band this was only £7 in advance - bargain!
First band of the night was Los Pepes. Not reinventing the wheel here - they play fast Ramones inspired pop/punk. They are a tightly drilled rock unit who know what they are doing and do it well. Their set was pretty relentless, with virtually no gaps between the songs - just BANG and straight into the next one. It was fairly generic stuff though and after a few songs they started to lose my attention...

Next it was the band I'd actually come to see - Duncan Reid & The Big Heads putting in (at least) their second appearance at Some Weird Sin . There was a good turnout to see them - especially considering Diamond Dogs were playing at Nambucca the same night  - a gig I would have liked to go to myself.
The ex-Boys bass player Duncan Reid has put a pretty good band together and has a knack for writing catchy pop/punk tunes.
Although the songs are very 'pop' in style this band rock pretty hard. Most the material played tonight was from the Big Heads two (so far) albums, but there were some songs from older bands thrown in as well - including 'Brickfield Nights' from Duncan's old band The Boys - who are still out touring and making new albums. 'Brickfield Nights' went down very well with the crowd. One or two members of The Boys were present in the audience and I did wonder if 'Honest' John Plain might get up and play with the band, but I think he was still recovering from a recent injury. Another Boys song the incredibly catchy 'First Time' is usually in this band's setlist and always goes down a storm -tonight is no exception. There is a surprise in store, and another even older song as ex-Hollywood Brats frontman Andrew Matheson is introduced. He ends the Big Heads set with a rousing version of 'Sick On You'.
'Sick On You' was a punk song before punk even existed - originally recorded for the Hollywood Brats one and only album released back in 1974. Keyboard player and songwriter Casino Steel of the Hollywood Brats was later a founding member of The Boys - who also recorded 'Sick On You' on their debut album in 1977 when Duncan 'Kid' Reid was still in the band. The somewhat enigmatic Andrew Matheson still has 'it' - excellent stage presence and charisma and might have become a star if he hadn't ditched the music business when Hollywood Brats imploded in 1975....
After a highly enjoyable set from Duncan Reid & The Big Heads (which turned out to be guitarist/keyboard player Alex Gold's last show before leaving the band) it was time for the headliners.
I had no idea Department S were even still going. Original singer Vaughn Toulouse died in 1991 and is now replaced by Eddie Roxy. To be honest the only song of theirs I can remember is their hit single Is Vic There? but they turn out to be a quite good punk/rock 'n' roll band tonight. I don't really know any of the songs - until the play an unexpected cover of the Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers classic Born To Lose - which doubles the amount of songs in their set I actually recognise! Towards the end of the set the singer puts his jacket on before leaving the stage - hey man you're doing it the wrong way round!
Needless to say 'Is Vic There' is dropped in towards the end of the set - also featuring Leigh Haggarty from Ruts DC on second guitar. It sounds great. Then there is an extended and rather self indulgent instrumental section before the band draw their set to a close. Now I realise why the singer put his jacket on - he's probably already waiting at the bus stop! The club carried on into the night way after the bands finished with the DJs spinning loads of classic punk/rock 'n' roll/indie sounds - a great value for money night out - apart from the ale prices.


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  2. I have since read Andrew Matheson's book 'Sick On You' about his time in the ill-fated Hollywood Brats - by turns hilarious and tragic it is a fantastic read about the dirty sleazy underside of the music business and some of the very dubious characters who ran it. I can't recommend the book highly enough.