Gig Review and Photography by Shen Salih
Do you ever get that feeling that you’ve just been a part of something really special, something really relevant? Saturday night, Brixton Academy, Skunk Anansie felt exactly like that. And judging by the crowd, it felt like that for 1000’s of others too. ‘Fascism..stop it DEAD in its track!’ Skin’s words resonate through me days later. Skunk Anansie have always been a special band, always pushing the boundaries and breaking barriers; they smashed it back in the early days, and they still smash it in 2017.
We arrived at a packed Brixton Academy a little late, The Pearl Harts were already a couple of tracks into their support set, but already I could tell they were going down a treat with this raucous crowd. The Pearl Harts, a name I was familiar with but hadn’t really checked out, are Kirsty (guitar/vox) and Sara (drums/vox) – 2 pint sized Londoners, but don’t be fooled by their appearance – these girls can ROCK! Inside these little ladies are ferocious warriors busting to get out and on Saturday night at Brixton Academy they got OUT!!! There were some absolute standout tracks like ‘Hit The Bottle’ and set closer ‘Black Blood’, they had the crowd roaring. These girls clearly weren’t intimidated by the size of the venue / crowd and totally held their own, and then some! They’re definitely on my radar now!
Now for the main event! A little late onto stage, the crowd were calling out for their hero’s, chomping at the bit to get going, so when Mark, Ace and Cass stepped on the stage the whole place erupted. But, as soon as they got a glimpse of the iconic front woman, Skin, that noise exploded ten-fold! Everything about skin is one of a kind; her voice, her style, her passion…she truly is a unique icon.
As soon as she hit her first note of And Here I Stand, I knew we were in for a ride…as fearsome and powerful as ever, this show was always going to have a political edge to it; more so than any of their shows / tours to date, due to our political climate. Skunk Anansie have never been a band to shy away from eloquently voicing their opinions regardless of the topic, but when you listen to classic tracks like Intelluctualise My Blackness’, ‘Little Baby Swastikkka’ and perhaps most poignant at the moment, ‘Yes It’s Fucking Political’, and you hear them live, with all the power and the passion you realise just exactly what you’re a part of either by being at the show, buying the albums or by sharing the beliefs of this band, this band that are always so on point both as writers and as performers.
Of course it wasn’t all about the politics, but it was all about the passion. All four original members of the band clearly put so much into being Skunk Anansie and their fans lap it up and give it back, they all feed off of each other and it’s awe-inspiring to watch. Playing tracks from all 6 of their studio albums including their most recognisable classics like ‘My Ugly Boy’ and ‘Weak,’ for which Skin picked up her acoustic guitar to strip it back somewhat. They also played some rarer gems like ‘All In the Name of Pity’ from ‘Paranoid & Sunburnt’ and ‘Tracy’s Flaw’ and ‘Cheap Honesty’ from ‘Post Orgasmic Chill’. No matter what they are playing, old or new, ferocious or down-beat, Skin’s vocals shine through; her range is simply impeccable and her falsetto possibly one of the most recognisable and inimitable in the industry.
There were plenty of tracks from their 2016 release ‘Anarchytecture’ like the painful break-up song ‘Death to the Lovers’. It was during tracks like this were perhaps a fraction of the crowds attention dipped slightly, but they soon came crashing back to attention for the absolute anthems like ‘Hedonism’and face melter ‘Charlie Big Potato’ which, along with ‘Because of You’ were absolute highlights for me. With the crowd singing back at full force you couldn’t help but be moved by the experience.
One particular track that moved me had to be ‘God Loves Only You’, for which Skin gave a very poignant speech before hand. Speaking of fascism and homophobia you could tell that her words resonated through the crowd. A crowd that was probably one of the warmest I’ve experienced in a long while; London is so diverse as was this crowd but they were a great example of unity and tolerance and as Skunk Anansie said we must all coexist; a very touching moment amongst the chaos of their show. With a double encore they certainly saved one of the best till last with ‘100 Ways To Be A Good Girl’, a big chunk of the crowd had sadly sped off after the first encore, eager to catch their trains home after the gig had already run over, but for those that remained, they certainly made up for it!
This band have just grown in talent as they’ve got older, not that they look any older; I want to know their secret! They’re each individually so talented; Mark pounding away on drums, Cass thundering on bass, Ace expertly riffing on Guitar and of course Skin on vocals – but put them together and something really magical does happen. Add to that, their best set, visually, to date and it made one hell of a night. With Mark on a raised platform with video panels built, he often looked like he was floating in mid air! Amazing lighting and stunning visuals, Saturday night really was a delight for eyes and ears. Long live the Skunk Army!
And Here I Stand
Intellectualise My Blackness
Because of You
I Will Break You
Death to the Lovers
My Love Will Fall
Twisted (Everyday Hurts)
My Ugly Boy(Skin on electric guitar)
Weak (Skin on acoustic guitar)
Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)
Love Someone Else
I Believed in You
That Sinking Feeling
God Loves Only You
Without You(Skin on electric guitar)
We Don’t Need Who You Think You Are
Yes It’s Fucking Political
Little Baby Swastikkka
All in the Name of Pity
Charlie Big Potato
100 Ways to Be a Good Girl