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Saturday 7 September 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Skunk Anansie (Live Review By Paul Hutchings)

Skunk Anansie, The Great Hall, Cardiff University

It’s been ten years since Skunk Anansie (9) played in Cardiff (although according to Setlist.FM it’s more like 23 years). “Looks like you fucking missed us” beams a vibrant Skin, surveying the adoring masses in front of her. And I mean adoring. Few bands get such feverish support, with their UK dates guaranteed to sell out every time. 25 years in the making, this gig was the culmination of the band’s 25th anniversary tour. 25 years since the four-piece from London burst onto the scene with their intense brand of hard punk edged rock and that immense debut Paranoid & Sunburnt, an album so good that no fewer than six tracks from the lengthy set list were pulled from it. Few bands pull such a varied audience either, with a fair number of metal heads swelling the more mainstream majority.

I last saw Skunk play in Bristol in May 2017, supporting their superb Anarchytecture album. You can read my review here http://musipediaofmetal.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-view-from-back-of-room-skunk-anansie.html Suffice to say, nothing has changed with the band (Deborah ‘Skin’ Dyer, Martin ‘Ace’ Kent, Richard ‘Cass’ Lewis and Mark Richardson) once more pulling out all the stops in a fast-aced two hour show which wowed the rabid audience. Pure energy surges through this band, their lust for live performances evident in the power that they deliver in every show. This was the final show on their UK tour, although the band have a couple more dates to complete in Europe to wrap up the 25Live@25 tour which started back in June and has seen them traverse across mainland Europe and the summer festival circuit. And whilst they are phenomenally entertaining to watch, underneath the simmering resentment and outrage towards social injustice, sexism and racism which has fuelled the band all these years continues to boil. Two new tracks, This Is War and What You Do For Love demonstrated that the fire still burns deep.

Skunk have utilised the talents of Erika Footman to support the band’s sound in recent years, her backing vocals, keyboards and percussion adding depth whilst her infectious enthusiasm on stage was a joy to watch. Encouraged to escape the safety of the keyboard, she joined Skin, Ace and Cass front and centre several times during the set, encouraging the audience who needed little invitation. I’ve written before about how cohesive a unit Skunk are, and once more they were almost telepathic in their connectivity. Meanwhile, it was all about Skin. Entering in a crazy foil jacket with hood as the band kicked off the evening with a raucous Charlie Big Potato, she soon shed the outfits and fist pumped, clapped and roared her way through yet another incredible performance. Regular forays into the pit with her crowd surfing started early; indeed, it was either All In The Name Of Pity or I Can Dream that saw the first of numerous leaps from the stage. A blinding light show, and decent sound all enhanced the evening further. It wouldn’t have been a Skunk show without some hard-hitting words and Skin took the opportunity to remind us that the battle for equality remains, with her incredulity at the current political farce receiving a roar of approval.

As for the set list, well, we got a full range of old classics as well as more recent tunes and of course, the two brand new tracks previously mentioned. Skunk have it all. The power of Intellectualise My Blackness, Yes, It’s Fucking Political and Tear The Place Up were balanced by moments of sheer beauty. Weak was tear inducing, Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good) had the full Cardiff choir participation and Charity cooled the temperature with its delicate delivery. A brief cover of Highway To Hell allowed Skin to introduce the band before her final dive into the pit and a momentous Little Baby Swastika concluded a hot and thoroughly fantastic evening for the capacity crowd.

Opening the evening had been the Nova Twins (7), a two-piece from South East London. Amy Love (guitar and vocals) and Georgia South (bass and backing vocals) were accompanied by a drummer but showed massive cojones to get up and warm the ever-increasing audience. Their fiery cross of punk, rock, rap and distortion slowly grew on the swelling crowd, and their sheer enthusiasm and energy just made me feel every one of my 49 years. With a massive ovation, I’d be unsurprised to see these girls rise to the top.

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