Gig Review | Haircut 100 @ Queen’s Hall

Haircut 100 tour poster

It won’t be long before the 80s group are back in full swing.

In October, 80s icons Haircut 100 brought their UK and Ireland tour to the Scottish capital. On a string of celebratory shows, the group performed modern renditions of tracks from their first album “Pelican West“. This was the only album that the group released, and the only project singer Nick Heyward was part of but 40 years on, Heyward returned with original members, Les Nemes and Graham Jones, to give fans an electrifying show full of back to back hits. With a striking support slot from Barbara, this was definitely an unforgettable show.


Taking to stage first were Brighton/Hove group Barbara. Formed by two brothers, Henry and John Tydeman, Barbara warmed up the crowd with their whimsical way of performing that kept everyone intrigued from the very first note. Their melodic and colourful set was brought to life by three other musicians, Dean Llewellyn on guitar, Laurie Miller on drums, and Jack Hosgood on bass.

Barbara brought broadway to the Scottish capital with their theatrical and musical style. If you’ve ever imagined having your own soundtrack to your life, Barbara are the band to listen to. Their smooth singing and heartfelt harmonies are universal and paired with lively lyrics, they made for an impressive sight. At the end of each track, which included songs like ‘Rainy Days in June‘ and 2023 single ‘Pretty Straight Guy‘, the crowd cheered and clapped loudly. The enthusiasm came from such a diverse audience who were of all ages. This diversity not only showed how popular Haircut 100’s music still is, but also how appreciative they were of new talent bringing this similar feel to a modern environment.

If the rather loud reactions from the crowd weren’t enough to prove how incredible Barbara already are, they have celebrity fans whose names fans may recognise. Squeeze songwriter Chris Difford has said “we need more Barbara in our lives“, with Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy saying “really tight songwriting, very poptastic“. Barbara also previously supported the latter band, The Divine Comedy, in their most recent tour. This all adds to a list of accolades they are quickly building in their musical careers so far.

Barbara create music and a live environment that are undeniably universal. They were the perfect support act for Haircut 100. Recently, they released latest single ‘Master Narrative‘ which only further proves the comments from fans, with celebrity status or otherwise. It will be exciting to see where Barbara take their musical journey, and which big names they go on tour with next.

Haircut 100

When it was time for Haircut 100 to headline, the packed out Queens Hall erupted with the cheers of every fan in the venue. Like with those who had arrived early to catch Barbara’s set, the audience for the headline band was diverse. For many of those in the crowd, they maybe bought and listened to “Pelican West” when it was first released in 1983. For others who attended, they perhaps were brought up listening to it, or chose to listen to Haircut 100 themselves. Either way, it was amazing to see everyone letting their hair down, even those who had none!

The group, who formed in Beckenham, presented their original lineup consisting of Nick Heyward, Les Nemes, and Graham Jones. In this celebratory tour, Haircut 100 connected with fans, some who sought a nostalgic night, others who were newer to their music. The main focus of the show was to play songs from this popular 80s album, which boasts four UK top-ten singles. These included ‘Nobody’s Fool‘, and ‘Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)‘. Also included in this impressive collection were the highly anticipated ‘Love Plus One‘ and ‘Fantastic Day‘ which were sung loudly by everyone in the crowd.

When playing the latter of these tracks, Heyward pointed at the crowd and the music stopped. The band was met with a chorus of voices singing “fantastic day” back to them in unison. It’s live moments like this that are the most rewarding for both fans and artists. As a fan, it is such a beautiful sight hearing everyone singing in harmony but also seeing the reaction on the band’s faces. Hearing their songs being sang back to them with such volume and enthusiasm must be one of the most fulfilling things for an artist to experience.

In July of this year, I sat down with Heyward at Rewind Festival in Perth. He spoke of how this was Les, Graham and I’s bond,” and how they “started the band together“. He had also mentioned how they were excited to “live our dreams on stage again“. Nick Heyward was 100% right when he said that this band is their bond. Their stage presence together made for such dynamic viewing. Including their four top 10 UK singles, the crowd were kept entertained from start to finish.

During an encore, they performed a cover of ‘As It Was‘ by Harry Styles. This further played into, and supported, the diversity in generations present at this show. At the very end of their performance, they were met with a standing ovation as the original trio took to the front of the stage. After playing a setlist of their biggest tunes, with a couple of unreleased songs too, it was such an incredible sight to see an entire crowd react so loudly and positively.

Even after seeing Nick Heyward at Rewind Festival, it was amazing to see the original lineup reunite and give one of the best performances I’ve witnessed this year. With a mention of a future Haircut 100 tour, it won’t be long before the 80s group are back in full swing and playing their old, and new, discography like they did 40 years ago.