Skunk Anansie Live Review @ Academy [1, 2, 3 and Club Academy] (Manchester) - 13 Nov 2010
Looking back through my teen years in the mid-90s, I actually feel quite lucky with the British rock music scene that I shared my angst and exploration with. You had your Britpop for sure, but I found more comfort from the bands underneath that Blur and Oasis surface. The charts at the time were showered with good music created by genuinely talented and solid song writing groups. One of my favourite who peaked at this time were Skunk Anansie. More direct, explosive, jagged, intent and nastier than their Britpop rivals, SA were more Britrock and had success with three studio albums during the 1990's, selling 5 million records.
After an eight-year break from the band, they had a much-anticipated reunion last year and did a sell out Greatest Hits tour, which clearly illustrated that, their popularity in the 90's down to their cutting edge and anthemic song writing never waned. A combination of punk, dub, electropop, reggae, and some good old rock and rage makes for a compelling sound. Add that to one of the most iconic and enigmatic front women I have ever come across, it makes for a real treat when you see them live. Skin on vocals, Cass on the bass, Ace with the lead guitar and Mark on drums make up the band.
Saturday 13th November saw Skunk Anansie visit Manchester Academy to commence their November British tour of ten dates. The band warmed up for this tour by performing at Sonisphere and V Festivals in the summer, before the imminent release of their forth studio album in September, Wonderlustre. The show was an energetic and passionate combination of their greatest hits (which they released as a 17 track album called Smashes and Trashes last November), and new songs from Wonderlustre.
SA announced themselves with an explosive rendition of the opening track to their 1996 second studio album Stoosh, Yes It's F***king Political. In my opinion, it was an ideal opening to show, allowing Skin to stamp her authority on proceedings with this screaming rock song. It set the tone for what was to unfold during the evening. As we got through their set list, including old favourites such as Lately, Charlie Big Potato, and Brazen (Weep), and songs from Wonderlustre such as Squander, and Because of you, a couple of things began to become apparent. At no time did I feel like the gig was meandering comfortably or that the band were simply going through the motions. Although not the most talkative group of people, they introduced their songs whilst joking with each other and it was wonderful to hear Skins infectious laugh. It's great to see a tight band genuinely enjoying themselves on stage.
What was also very obvious is that SA are most comfortable when playing their music with each other. For the first gig of a tour, it's not uncommon for a band to take a little time to get into their stride, but not tonight. Skin was absolutely pitch perfect, and not a bum note was heard, proving that they are masters of their art. It was also nice to see and hear Skin's wonderful voice back with the band. I saw her a few years ago at a cosy gig playing her solo material, and although there is no hiding her talents, SA are four musicians that belong together, and as quoted on their official website, the live arena is 'Skunks natural habitat'.
Tonight's play list was not just a mixture of songs old and new, but without disrupting the flow of the evening, the tempo was constantly changing. This was no bad thing. It illustrated quality of craft if one moment you can be jumping to such anthems as Weak, and Twisted (Everyday Hurts), and then be captivated by the tearjerker Hedonism (Just Because It Feels Good). After a set of around 80 minutes, an appreciative audience pleaded for an encore which duly came in the shape of You Saved Me, from Wonderlustre, and a riotous rendition of their debut single Little Baby Swastikkka. A superb emotional show from a band still at the top of their game.
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