Gig Review by Simon Saynor with Photography by Mark Loraine

Skinny Lister are on the road again on the back of critically acclaimed 4th album ‘The Story Is…’ 30 dates covering the UK and mainland Europe before heading off to the States, then back for festival season. There’s a reason they’re touted as one of the hardest working bands out there.

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It’s another sell out, as many dates on the tour are, and there’s a definite sense of anticipation in the air. Skinny Lister pride themselves on being a party band with a well-deserved reputation for being one of the hottest live bands currently on the circuit. They don’t disappoint. They never disappoint.

They bounce on stage and straight into lead single from the latest album, ’38 Minutes’. ‘This is not a drill’ yells singer Dan Heptinstall. The crowd know. Bodies are already flying everywhere. It’s gonna be a loud and sweaty night. Standard Skinny Lister fare then. They keep things up to date with 2nd ‘The Story Is…’ single, ‘My Distraction’ before dipping into the Skinny archives. By the 5th song we’ve sampled all the albums and so it is all night, a 25 song set spread pretty evenly across all 4 albums.

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Skinny Lister on stage are a mass of frenetic energy. Not one of them stays still, even Scott Milsom takes his upright bass for many a jig, Sam ‘The Mule’ Brace (guitar, shirt) and Max Thomas (accordion, mandolin, crowd control) swapping sides of the stage mid-song, Dan (vocals, guitar, smiles) – the broad grin is constant, never stopping but always seemingly in control of everything and stage front Lorna Thomas (vocals, flagon), a whirl of arms and legs. Behind this Thom Mills battering his drums into submission but never missing a beat. All 6 members put the work in and never leave anything on stage. It never crosses over into chaos though and musically they are as tight as they come.

It is a night of many, many highlights – ‘Rattle & Roar’ has already become a live favourite, a raucous ‘Forty Pound Wedding’ (written by Lorna and Max’s Dad, ‘Party’ George), the beautiful ‘Colours’ which briefly calms things down before building into a magnificent crescendo, a rare dip into politics with ‘Second Amendment’ (“I love my gun, I love my second amendment”) – my favourite off the new album, and of course the mass singalong of ‘John Kanaka’ lead by Sam and Max. It’s a centuries old traditional shanty that The Skinnies have firmly made their own. In all the times I’ve seen Skinny Lister I’ve never heard it sung so loud and passionately. (And the ‘John Kanaka’ – ‘Rollin’ Over’ segue is one of my favourite things ever).

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The anti-Brexit gem ‘Thing Like That’ is now firmly embedded in the live set (probably the only decent thing to come out of Brexit) before Lorna takes lead vocal again on the gorgeous ‘Bonny Away’ from 2nd album ‘Down On Deptford Broadway’. It’s the calm before the storm. From the same album ‘This Is War’ and ‘Trouble On Oxford Street’ bring the set to a majestic close. Like many Xtra Mile artists the gap between set closer and first encore is perfunctory, they just want to be on that stage. A stomping ‘Raise A Wreck’ kicks us off, then straight into ‘Hamburg Drunk’, a fine drinking song and a subject I feel the band may well know a fair bit about.

‘Six Whiskies is pretty much unmovable as the show closer now and rightly so. It’s just about as perfect a song to end on as there is. A love song to London (but it could be any town or city) from the perspective of wandering around in the early hours having been ‘asked’ to leave a nightclub. The whole room is a swaying mass of people wrapped round each other, the top of their voices “Six whiskies in me I stumble through this pretty city, singing till they arrest me and I declare my undying love for you”. It is simply magnificent.

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As said previously they leave nothing on stage, band and crowd ecstatic and sweaty. To see Skinny Lister right now is to see one of the best live bands we have. It is truly joyous.

Set List:
38 Minutes
My Distraction
Tragedy in A Minor
If the Gaff Don’t Let Us Down
What Can I Say?
Artist Arsonist
Rattle & Roar
My Life, My Architecture
Geordie Lad
Cathy
Forty Pound Wedding
Colours
George’s Glass
Second Amendment
Bold as Brass
John Kanaka
Rollin’ Over
Wanted
Thing Like That
Bonny Away
This Is War
Trouble on Oxford Street
Encore:
Raise a Wreck
Hamburg Drunk
Six Whiskies

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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