October 20, 2016
The Garage, London
“We have to make the garage as intimate as a Thursday night folk club”
Skinny Lister’s star is clearly on the rise following a successful support slot in the States alongside Frank Turner. The band returned to the UK for a sold-out run for their new album, The Devil, The Heart and The Fight, and brought Frank Turner back with them.
Fellow Xtra Mile label mate Beans on Toast was also waiting in the wings with Seán McGowan – a sure sign that it would be a messy night in the best kind of way.
When the security guard diligently warned the front row fans that were was a small chance of crowd surfing, it seemed only fair to warn him there absolutely *would* be. Few things are as priceless as the look on his face when it later dawned on him that the double bass and its owner absolutely *would* be sailing off into the crowd, too. As would Skinny Lister’s co-vocalist Lorna Thomas, Frank Turner and the rest!
It wasn’t just musicians being passed through the crowd. A Skinny Lister show wouldn’t be completing without sharing a flagon, and what’s better than one flagon? Three flagons! And what’s better than two Thomases? Three Thomases! Max and Lorna Thomas’s singing dad, ‘Party George’, was on hand for a few songs, too!
As the flagons and XMRs finest floated around The Garage during Carry, it was clear that Skinny Lister’s latest material was written to be performed. Of course, the songs stand alone on record, but there’s something unmistakable and inimitable about a Skinny Lister live show; all shanty singalongs, flailing limbs and endless grins.
New single Geordie Lad was a particular highlight, with the potential to take on a life of its own in the same way Pearl Jam’s Alive has; bittersweet when written but life-affirming live.
That’s not to say the classics have been retired; far from it. The whole XMR crew pitched in for a wild version of the brilliant Trouble on Oxford Street, the traditional shanty John Kanaka was shouted at full voice in unison with the crowd, and This Is War was embraced as always. This is London, after all, and this night was unforgettable.
This is London: the aftermath!
Skinny Lister’s new album The Devil, The Heart and The Fight is out now – check out my review here. The band are currently touring the U.S. and will be returning for London dates in December, January and May, surrounded by various UK and Europe shows – full details here.
“We’re going to leave you now with a song about selling your soul TO THE DEVIL!”
Holy Moly and The Crackers were the perfect choice to support Skinny Lister because they share the same multi-instrumentalist, multi-vocalist, frenetic approach. They describe themselves as a gypsy folk band. Think Gabby Young and Other Animals crossed with Dom Coyote for some sense of the theatrical performance at play.
Co-vocalist Ruth Lyon impressed with colours in her voice reminiscent of early No Doubt Gwen Stefani. Conrad Bird combined his vocal work with exuberant moves.
The pair were backed up by a motley crew of talented and versatile musicians, each able to dip in and out of genres with ease including a Latin number, The Woman From Spain, and the self-explanatory A Punk Called Peter.
Holy Moly and The Crackers left the Skinny Lister crowd – already well-used to controlled chaos – energised by the entertaining onslaught from a modern day vaudeville act.
Holy Moly and the Crackers are currently on tour throughout the UK – check out the tour dates here.
Despite the name, Franke and the Two Tone Babies was a solo act, but you wouldn’t know it from the sound. Dan Turnbull brought the troubadour tradition to the present day, adding loops and heavy reverb to the one man band arsenal of a harmonica and a guitar.
Following an extended instrumental segment culminating in an electronica wall of sound, he broke out a cheeky smile and entertaining banter. The lyrics varied wildly, from mental health to monkeys, always delivered with dedication.
He won the crowd over, leading them towards a call-and-response rising from whispers to all-in shouts of “Not enough bonobo, mate/too much chimpanzee!”
Funke and The Two Town Baby tour dates are available here.
Like what you see? There are many more photos of the show over on Flickr. Please follow me there, and here:
Want more photos? Try my travel, nature and street photography website, Out To The Streets!