Skunk Anansie – O2 Academy, Bristol
On a blisteringly hot evening one of the UK’s seminal bands demonstrated once again, that 23 years on nothing can beat the power of a good rock show. The 02 was baking from the day’s heat and the capacity crowd by the time Skunk Anansie (10) hit the stage just after 9pm. By the time that we filed out into the welcome cool of the evening two hours later even those of us who had the foresight to get to the slightly cooler balcony were rather moist.
If you’ve never seen Skunk Anansie then you’ve really missed out. The band draw a hugely eclectic crowd with shaved headed females standing shoulder to shoulder with long haired bearded metallers, couples of all persuasions alongside singles and even family groups. The Skunk music is a true leveller. For pure energy, there are few bands that can match the raw power of the band in full flow. They have a killer catalogue with massive songs full of crushing riffs as well as the ability to drop it down to the acoustic level to ease the pressure.
This evening was one of a select few following on from their earlier European and UK tour is support of 2016’s excellent Anarchytecture. The tracks from the new release stood comfortably alongside the older material with Death To The Lovers and Without You particularly impressive. The older material still grabs you by the hair and slams your head into the concrete at times but in the most magical way. Intellectualise My Blackness hit hard early on with Skin having already completed the first of three crowd surfs. The striking voice of the band is just a human dynamo, bouncing across the stage with limitless energy, her leggy Doc Marten booted stride mesmerising.
Skunk hadn’t played in Bristol since March 2013 and the eager crowd were in full voice, keen to maximise the opportunity. With sing-a-longs during almost every song, the Skunk Army demonstrated that they are amongst the most loyal of fan bases. Weak and Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good) were fantastic, Skin conducting the faithful choir with effortless ease. She is the consummate front woman, quelling a punch up in the audience quickly and commanding respect from the audience when she dived in amongst them. Alongside her, the relaxed yet brilliant Cass laid down the casual bass lines, his face moving from concentrated frown to wide grin as the evening moved on.
To his right, Mark Richardson’s huge frame pounded the drums with ease. He had an opportunity to refer to his Music Support charity, urging fans to contribute if possible to an organisation that has helped to support the crew and musicians of Ariana Grande after the dreadful Manchester bombing. Great work. Riffs a plenty during the evening, supplied courtesy of the superb guitarist Ace whose quiet unassuming manner belied the chaos he was unleashing. The band now have Richardson’s wife, Erika Footman on keys, percussion and backing vocals to add some additional layers and she joined Skin front of stage for a couple of magical songs.
Most relevant song of the evening? Possibly Yes It’s Fucking Political, which was just stunning, whilst Charlie Big Potato and a beautiful Cheap Honesty also stood out. As the band left the stage after a deserved second encore, Skin thanked the breathless crowd and with the final words “Don’t vote Tory” perfectly concluded a quite fabulous evening. Next time don’t miss them.