After four anxious months, The Talking Heads finally re-opened its doors to the general public last weekend, and I’m glad to say that Friday 13th did not have any surprises in store for the 250-capacity venue. In fact, everything went encouragingly well! This article is the first of three describing the whole opening weekend.
The venue itself is hardily recognisable. No longer is the Heads a dark and overwhelmingly glum establishment; it’s amazing what a fresh lick of white paint, a few nice pieces of furniture and new light fittings can do! Obviously, there has been far more extensive work carried out — the new floors mean you’re no longer struggling to uproot yourself from any spot you may have been standing in for more than 30 seconds; the new sheltered smoking area has heaters, keeping punters happy; the Oink! burger van outside wafts gorgeous smelling food all evening; I found myself embarrassingly smitten with several of the new barstaff (yes, that is important!); and on top of it all, brand new glasses for all of the draught beers. ‘Awe’ was a word being banded around by a lot of people as they saw the venue for the first time.
Brett Summers compèred the evening, and was clearly glad to be back on the stage introducing bands at one of his favourite venues. The music kick-started at around 9:15 with the unique folk stylings of The Horse, a tight-knit, high-energy group full of quirky lyrics who, as my friend Ziggy pointed out, just looked damned happy to be on stage. Smiles all-round in the band and the audience as pockets of people began to loosen up and start dancing. Quite frankly, The Horse were the perfect band to open the night.
Next up on the stage were four-piece The Flying Alexanders. This shameless three-chord rock group had the place bouncing as the evening started to draw on. Powerful and loud, they progressed the evening nicely onto local legends Stone Them Crows. This band of long-term rock ‘n’ rollers are not some typical small venue band. Of the night, it’s fair to say that Stone Them Crows really grabbed my attention, drawing comparisons to 60s and 70s stadium rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. A bold comparison, I’m sure you’ll agree, but this band are ambitious in their sound and they really pull it off.
Closing the evening were Blue Screen of Death, whose Facebook page describes them as having “no notable influences, but invariably under an influence”. Deep. An apt description for their kind of music, also. Loud and deep. A wonderful, headbangingly (is that a word?) noisy band to finish an evening of high energy and excitement.
Though the music finished at around 1am, the venue was still buzzing until gone 2. When I spoke to co-owner Martin White last month he said that he wanted the Heads to be “somewhere you want to go whether there is something on or not”. Only time will tell with that one. But on Friday night, people certainly didn’t want to leave and I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen the venue so packed — both bars full to capacity and the smoking area overflowing into the car park. It’s encouraging, and hopefully the venue will maintain this kind of audience over the coming weeks, at the very least.