|Even better than the real thing?!|
On a personal note, I can honestly say they changed my life. If it wasn't for the Massive Heeds, I would never have become the huge U2 fan I am now!
"Many years ago I had the pleasure of seeing the Massive Heeds in Dublin. It was quite bizarre, I was going to purchase my first ever motorbike, so was buzzing along the street minding my own business, turned the corner and bumped into a massive Bono head, dressed in black with white gloves. That was quite a shock. Quite literally bumped into him face to face. The great memory is the masses of people who followed them along the street, like rats following pied pipers, as they shook hands and waved to everyone along the street. "
They apparently caused huge confusion among the audience, with the media even speculating that it was the real band inside the caricature heads! Once on stage, they would prance around to the Happy Mondays hit 'Step On', urging the crowd to jump and clap along. Each appeared with his own trademark prop - Larry had a giant pair of drumsticks, Edge had a guitar, and just like his U2 counterpart, Massive Heed Adam could often be seen with a large cigarette hanging from his lips! After a couple of minutes the Zoo crew would rush on and hastily manhandle the Heeds back into their boxes, though they'd keep popping up irrepressibly to wave and blow kisses to the fans as they were wheeled away. :)
Picture the scene. The biggest band on the planet. The Zooropa Tour. Two roadies wheel out a flight case to the end of the catwalk. With stadium spotlights focused on the box and some seriously dramatic music the lid begins to open. A white-gloved hand appears first, followed by the most famous face in the business. Our Massive Head Bono, climbs out of the box to thunderous roars and screams from the crowd. Once out of the box, he turns and bangs on the lid and Massive Head of The Edge emerged. This startling image was almost too much for the fans to handle. Massive Heads Bono and The Edge were then joined by Massive Heads Larry and Adam to complete this brilliant quartet. We didn't think the fans could scream any louder until the real U2 appeared moments later...
With their bizarre, inherently comical appearance, the Massive Heeds fit in perfectly on a show that was well known for its offbeat humour and silliness. As well as dancing for the audience during the ad breaks, they were sometimes involved in daft skits, such as Chris arriving at his desk to find Massive Heed Bono asleep in his chair. The U2 regulars were occasionally joined by other Massive Heeds, notably the Gallagher brothers from Oasis, who seemed to resent their popularity! (Chris: "Everybody loves 'em! Well, that is apart from... there's a couple of lads who don't like them. A couple of lads don't like the U2 Massive Heeds. I don't know why, they just never have done - they get in a real grouch about it." Chris opens a door to reveal Liam and Noel sulking on the stairs! Watch the video here.)
This was far from the end for those loveable lads, though. The Massive Heeds went to Dublin Castle for the Heineken Green Energy festival weekend at the start of May 1999, before embarking on a massive tour of British universities, colleges and nightclubs - even performing on the main stage of a few major music festivals that summer. One such event was the Fleadh Festival in London's Finsbury Park on 10th July, where the U2 boys were set to appear with some of their other massive headed friends including Ronan Keating. (As the NME put it: "Joining all the bands on the bill will be the Massive Heads, the fibre-glass headed living puppets as seen on U2's Zooropa tour, Robbie Williams' recent jaunt and every week without becoming tedious on TFI Friday. ") They were also scheduled to appear at the T In The Park festival. The Massive Heeds were among the performers at a 'Picnic in the Park' in Edinburgh's West Princes Street Gardens on 1st July 1999, entertaining 1,500 school children who had taken part in a parade to mark the opening of the new Scottish Parliament. Other events on their calendar included Microsoft's Tech·Ed Europe '99 conference in Amsterdam, where they performed during the main party in the keynote hall on 9th July.
At the start of 2000, the U2 and Robbie Williams Heeds partied in the New Year in Aberdeen, dancing to Bee Gees songs among other things. They were spotted again on 7th May 2000 at the Beltane celebrations (a Celtic fire festival) in Stirling. Sheffield nightclub The Rebublic also featured 'The Massive Head Stage Show' every Friday as part of their Bubblegum night, where '80s and early '90s classic hits were played - Heeds appearing here included U2, Madonna, Boy George, George Michael, Tina Turner and Prince. (Always a big draw, the Massive Heeds had previously performed on the opening night of York's largest nightclub Ikon and Diva on 4th February 1999, where management failed to predict the demand and many people were refused entry after queuing in the cold for two hours!)
On 14th September 2007, as part of the Dublin Culture Night, the U2 Massive Heeds "made a trip down O'Connell Street to wave to the locals and have their photos taken" - see clips and pictures on YouTube here! The U2 and Boyzone Heeds were expected to undertake another walkabout at the following year's event on 19th September 2008: "Bono and Ronan together at last! You won’t be able to miss Arcana’s larger than life characters as they embark on their Culture Night tour of Dublin’s streets, stopping en route to make guest appearances in venues such as The Hugh Lane Gallery. Keep your eyes peeled in the GPO, you could find you are in line behind a massive version of The Edge... "
Many thanks to Anna Black for sending me this photo of the Massive Heeds at London's ExCeL Centre on 13th November 2007 - apparently they were doing some promo stuff for the Irish Tourist Board at the World Travel Market! Anna is on a quest to photograph 2190 people holding her signed photo of 'Allo 'Allo actor Arthur Bostrom, and the U2 Heeds were reportedly very eager to participate. :D
If you can offer any detailed information about where the Massive Heeds have appeared over the last few years - especially if you have photos! - then please contact me so I can update the website. Full credit will of course be given!
The appeal of these crazy caricatures shows no sign of diminishing. An article in the Sunday Mirror described them as being "in constant demand at television shows, parties and events all across the world", while Arcana state on their website: "We have devised floor shows that incorporate the Massive Heads, these shows have been the most popular of all our performances."
The Ireland Inspires website, commissioned by Fáilte Ireland to promote business related tourism, includes a section on holding a corporate meeting at one of Ireland's Conference Hotels. Their suggested entertainment for the champagne reception? The Massive Heeds of course, not just dancing but actually "performing" U2 songs: "We propose having the full U2 Massive Heads band. Each member of the band will be equipped with their instrument, Larry on full drum kit, Adam on bass guitar, The Edge on lead guitar and of course BONO on lead vocal. We also supply a full PA system that we play well-known U2 songs preferably from their live albums. The four caricature U2 heads mime along to these tracks as if playing live. " Now this I would love to see. :)
In particular, if you have any old videotapes of the Massive Heeds performing on TFI Friday which you could transfer onto your computer, it would be brilliant to see some clips on YouTube. I hardly recorded any shows myself as I figured I'd never feel the need to watch them again... how wrong I was!!