The Talking Heads Southampton

As popular Southampton venue The Talking Heads prepares to move to their new Polygon location, we’ve taken a look at some of the best acts to have graced the Portswood Road stage over the past ten years.

The venue plays host to its final ‘big gig’ this weekend (Saturday, 23 January 2016) with the appearance of legendary ‘Two Hit Wonder” John Otway and his Big Band. (Details here)

To keep up to date with The Talking Heads, their move and future gigs, join their official Facebook Page.


1313 Everything, Everything

Manchester based Everything Everything have been announced to headline Winchester’s Blissfields Festival this summer but just over 5 years ago they came to Southampton for an October gig at The Talking Heads. Even then, despite still being relatively unknown, the sold out crowd were singing along to every word and it was evident they’d soon be playing much larger venues. Thomas Mews wrote on the 405 website: “the intimate nature of this sold-out show made this an incredible gig” .

Everything Everything
EWverything Everything By Juni [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
13. Everything, Everything

1212 Eat Static

The psychedelic trance/ techno outfit are probably more known for their festival appearances but the band that was borne out of a side project from Ozric Tentacles came to Talking Heads to celebrate 25 since they formed. They were heavily involved in the early days of the rave scene and bought this vibe to Southampton on 6th December 2014.  A kaleidoscope of lights and sound took over the Heads and some great footage was captured too.

12. Eat Static

1111 The Magic Numbers Christmas Gig

Just over a year ago, The Magic Numbers arrived on stage for an intimate Christmas gig, singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and throwing crackers into the crowd.   The Daily Echo said of the sold out gig: “they came bearing gifts of beautiful melodies, catchy harmonies, and even came bearing gifts of wrapped T-shirts for the merry crowd”. The band enjoyed themselves so much that they played until the early hours – ensuring the lucky crowd had a night they’ll never forget.

11. The Magic Numbers Christmas Gig

1010 Eddie and the Hot Rods

Most known for their 70’s hit, “Do Anything You Wanna Do”, Eddie and the Hot Rods have split and reformed with various line ups since that 1977 hit.  Local writer Ged Babey, was in attendance and wrote a review for Louder Than War:  “By the encores there were voluptuous biker-women stripped down to their bras dancing like loons as well as a nutty old long-hair cheerleading proceedings with his best Mick Jagger moves down the front and on the stage whilst the band blasted out some fine, fine rock’n’roll,  the classic, timeless sound of high-energy R’n’B”.  Ged’s sidekick for the night continued the review: “This line up of the Hot Rods still has the firepower of old, great musicians, and clearly having a whale of a time up there.”.

10. Eddie and the Hot Rods

99 The Damned

The Damned were the first ever UK Punk Rock band to release a single in the country. When they played the Talking Heads in 2008 they played not one gig but two, on the weekend of the 15 and 16 November. Both gigs sold out, obviously. Local heroes The Flying Alexanders supported on the Saturday where The Damned performed two sets – Dark Asteroid developed into a jam that included excerpts of ‘Pushin Too Hard’, ‘Break on Through’ and ‘The End’.

9. The Damned

88 The Bluetones

After a 5 year break, Britpop legends The Bluetones, released a new album in 2010 which saw them visit over 20 venues around the country in Spring. The closest they came to Southampton that time was a gig at The Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth but later in the year – 9th December to be precise – they played a sold out Talking Heads, one of their most intimate gigs for years.   Mark Morris and the band were promoting latest album ‘New Athens’ but the Southampton crowd were treated to all the hits from their platinum selling album, Expecting To Fly. This grainy video is the only video online (that we could find!) of the gig – but you can get the feel of the atmosphere that night. Kind of.

8. The Bluetones

77 Band of Skulls

Band of Skulls are without doubt Southampton’s biggest rock band of the moment but without The Talking Heads they probably, no definitely, wouldn’t exist. Singer and bassist Emma Richardson used to work the bar and they used to hold monthly club nights under their previous name (Fleeing New York). Club Fleeing New York eventually became Club Skulls and before you knew it, Band of Skulls were making waves across the pond with one their songs being used in adverts and films including the first Twilight movie.   They received a hero’s welcome when they returned to the Talking Heads in February 2010 after debut single I Know What I Am had been made iTunes Single of the Week. Staying loyal to their favourite venue, they returned in 2011 – a few clips of which can be seen here:

7. Band of Skulls

66 The Slits

Punk veterans, The Slits, performed at The Talking Heads in October 2009, almost exactly a before legendary founder sadly Ari Up passed away.   The gig was part of a tour that was celebrating the bands first release in 25 years. Ari Up’s (Arianna Foster, step-daughter of John Lydon) huge dreads and gold hotpants cut a powerful figure and her appearance left everybody talking about their punk-reggae performance for weeks after.  Local DJ and Slits fan, Matt Clarke, said: “It was The Slits new line up complete with Hollie Cook and Ari Up was still a bit crazy.  Little did we know it was one of the last gigs she would ever play, which makes it even more poignant. It really was a legendary gig”.

Ari up
By georgia from brooklyn, usa (ari uppppp Uploaded by McGeddon) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
6. The Slits

55 Mumford & Sons

Mumford drums
Wiki Commons, Bristol 23 May 2009 Source Flickr: Mumford & Sons Author: Mike Mantin
It was packed to the rafters but you could hear a pin drop when the band walked on stage.  Back in April 2008, the unknown Mumford & Sons played a low-key gig at Kolebka in Bevois Valley (now known as The Shooting Star). Within 12 months they were getting widespread national attention and in October 2009 they returned to Southampton to perform at a sold-out Talking Heads. Former Solent University Popular Music Journalism student, Ian Easton, wrote for Virgin at the time: “Banjos and upright double basses seem to be the new black and the big money-making machines are right behind that. Will the spotlight change them, now that they have signed to major label Island Universal? Who knows – it is clear that their debut album Sigh No More’ is far more polished than their previous two EPs”.

5. Mumford & Sons

44 New York Dolls

One of the most influential proto-punk bands of the 70’s it was without doubt one of the Talking Heads’ biggest ever coups when they announced the band would be playing in December 2009. They may have been without 3 of their founding members, but the appearance by original members David Johansen and Syl Sylvain ensured the sell-out was definitely one of those “I was there” moments (if you were there).

4. New York Dolls

33 And the Worst?

I’m not one to criticise anybody who gets up on a stage as they’re a braver person than me – but this performance by Nicki Grahame (of “who IS she?” Big Brother fame) probably should never have happened. Still, it was a bit of a laugh.

3. And the Worst?

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