After a string of dates across Europe, Skunk Anansie return to Skin’s hometown, Brixton, to add the final stamp at a sold out homecoming show. With a career spanning over a decade, the audience, many of whom like me no doubt attended the Brixton date just over a year ago when the band embarked on a greatest hits tour, are eager to see what’s new. What’s clear however is that certain trademarks haven’t changed and as Skin runs onto the stage, adorned with a feather like creation around her shoulders my mind casts back to the gold glitter ball from last year’s show.
Suffice to say Skunk Anansie know what works and there’s no obvious sense that they’re prepared to mess around with this formula. Skin runs around the stage, mic stand being negated to a simple stick that she chooses to wave around her head, as she belts out her powerhouse lyrics. And this is the crux of Skunk Anansie’s merits, their faultless rock rhythms layered with Skin’s almost operatic voice. The guys seem to smash at their kit as if their life depends upon it, whilst Skin dives over the barrier, to crowd walk, without ever missing a note.
Yes It’s Fucking Political leads into Charlie Big Potato Head and it’s soon clear that tonight is more a celebration of their success, than an opportunity to showcase the new material. In fact songs from the new album (Wonderlustre) are sparse. God Only Loves God Only Loves You falls into the upbeat remit whilst Over The Love and Talk Too Much seem positively downbeat, almost melancholy. Combined with My Ugly Boy it feels as if Skunk have returned, to grant us more of the same, all of the songs seeming as if they’d slot into previous albums without being overtly new. It’s The Sweetest Thing then, that acts as their saving grace. Live it’s rockier than the album version, which dare I say it, sounds almost pop and it quickly becomes an undeniable foot stomper.
Is it wrong that Skunk haven’t messed with their formula? I, and many other fans at the Academy don’t seem to think so. Because Skunk you see, are onto a winner and as a sea of mouths sing back the lyrics to Brazen, Weak, Twisted (Everyday Hurts) and Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good) it’s clear to see why. Whilst the new stuff is similar to the old, the old has always been different enough to set them apart and an opportunity to see old classics, aired with a sprinkling of new, quite literally ‘tear the place up’.
Whilst the addition of glitter falling onto the audience in the encore seems a shade out of place purely on the basis that the band are epic without the requirement of fancy tricks, everything else falls firmly into place and this addition is enough to make me turn my head out of my own mesmerised haze, to see I am not alone. ‘It takes blood and guts to be this cool, but I’m still just a cliché’ state the lyrically driven t-shirts as I depart and I can’t help but shake my head and realise it’s all wrong. Skunk Anansie have blood, guts and ultimate cool, but they are anything but a cliché.