The saga of a weekend at The Talking Heads concluded on Sunday with an ambitious 16-act lineup starting in the early afternoon, going through to the point the venue’s licence ran out. That’s ten hours of acoustic pleasure! You’d be mistaken for thinking that it’s a simple plug-in-and-go job; with that many acts, anything can go wrong. This was going to be epic on a scale Homer couldn’t even imagine. With that in mind, you’d think owners Martin and Guy would be tearing their hair out; but no, they still had the serene coolness about them that had characterised the whole weekend. And, better still, for all the things that could go wrong, nothing did.
In short, The Talking Heads resurrection weekend was fantastic. It was quite possible the best three days that have been put on at the venue in years.
It would take forever for me to talk about every act that was onstage through Sunday. Not only that, but I’d be struggling for words and have admittedly forgotten what some acts were like. Give me a break — there were a lot! The first act, Georgette Cullum, took her place under the spotlights at around 2ish. A half-hour later than billed, but this was simply to ensure there was something resembling a crowd for her performance. The venue was understandably quiet at this point, but Cullum’s dreamy voice and well-written melodies floated through the room, opening the day nice and calmly. By the time Steve Picken took to the stage the fatigue of the weekend had caught up to me, but his incredible guitar work was enough to grab my attention. I was desperate for him to sing, but perhaps I was asking too much as he was already conquering the Spanish style riffs with the kind of ease that made me want to learn guitar in the first place. The next highlight of the day for me was The Mighty Raj, whom I almost missed as I was indulging myself in one of Oink!’s hamburgers (I’ll get to that in a minute). Raj’s set was slick and well practised. Admittedly it was a bit of a blur, so certainly an act that I will seek out again in the near future.
I briefly mentioned the Oink! van in part one, and have deliberately not given this little gem much attention until now. Quite honestly, I wanted to wait until I had indulged in one of these porky patties before I started raving about them. It’s just good journalism. Well, there’s that and the fact I was hoping van owner Giles might try to bribe me. He didn’t. He’s a man of principle it seems, with all his ingredients coming from the UK and most being sourced from within 20 miles. If you follow their Facebook page, you can see photos of the pigs being raised. Giles is a firm believer that it’s important to know where your food comes from, and as cheesy as it sounds you can really taste the difference. This isn’t your Chic-o-Land post-Jesters kebab; this is classy food.
Later on came a set from Sean McGowan. Where other acts had overrun slightly, Sean adjusted his set so that later acts would be given their full slots — a very noble act from a man who has dominated both the Strummerville and the mINtSouth next-big-thing charts. Keep your eyes on this chap, he’ll be moving on to big things. Near the end of the evening came acoustic folk-esque stylings courtesy of The Lowis Lanes and Retrospect, both of whom owned the stage but were playing to dwindling crowds as the night began to draw to a close. The night was closed by acoustic act Nick Tann, a musician synonymous with the Southampton music scene itself. If you do happen to catch Nick playing, I strongly recommend you shake his hand and have a pint with him.
It was a superb weekend at the Heads: magnificent bands, a great atmosphere, and generally wonderful crowds. I have spent a lot of money there (though I dare not tell you how much), even though the drinks are considerably cheaper than they used to be. It’s fair to say that The Talking Heads has been well and truly resurrected. I cannot, however, say the same for myself. I need a few days. Get yourselves down there, though!