Skunk Anansie – Manchester Academy: Live Review

Brit-rockers show their class in abundance.

Skunk Anansie could arguably be more relevant than they have ever been. Celebrating 25 years as a band, their songs and identity have matured and gotten better over time. Skin rightly corrected Stormzy and Beyonce about being the first person of colour to headline Glastonbury and their ability to rock hard and pull on the heart strings is up there with the finest of bands.

In Manchester, they go for the jugular. The drum’n’bass introduction of Charlie Big Potato gets the crowd fervent from the off. As the repetitive riff crashes in, the crowd revels in the presence of Skin, taking to the stage in a jacket of silver streamers; you’d expect nothing less than complete extravagance from one of the best singers in the business.

The lavish costume changes to a jacket that Grace Jones or Morris Day would be proud of as the band continue the frenzy of heavy hitting tunes with newer cut, Because Of You, before a one-two smash from their debut, Paranoid & Sunburnt, in All In The Name of Pity and I Can Dream. The latter sees Skin make one of several forays deep into the excited crowd where they split and obey her every wish, such is her ability to orchestrate a crowd.

Skin taking the concert to the crowd at Manchester Academy – 18th August 2019.
Picture: Dominic Walsh

Skin eulogises on equality, war, peace, love and the bands history throughout the night. She mentions the ill fated night of May 2017 when 22 people lost their lives after the Manchester bomb – the band played in Manchester several days after the horrific event and she pays tribute to a wonderful city and recollects the great shows and audiences that make up a part of their rich history.

Watching Skunk Anansie is a tribal experience. The bass laden dance of Twisted (Everyday Hurts) and the hard fury of Intellectualise My Blackness sees the crowd go wild in different ways at the hands of bassist Cass and guitarist, Ace, respectively. Brand new track, This Means War shows the continued power that Skunk Anansie possess. The heaviest of riffs and Skin at her drum-banging, crowd inciting best with Mark Richardson pounding the drums with fury.

For all the heavier tunes, Skunk Anansie have a wonderful array of ballads. Weak is the song that probably put them on the map back in the mid-90’s but Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good) and Secretly are sung with such vigour on this night that it’s actually hard to hear Skin singing such is the volume of the crowd.

The already mentioned This Means War is not the only new track in the set tonight. What You Do For Love is the bands latest single – another example of a band that show no signs of slowing up, a quarter of a century into their career.

Skunk Anansie’s latest single, What You Do For Love.

After Tear The Place Up ends the main set, the band return for two encores that are rife with fun. A playful rendition of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell soundtracks introductions of the band and The Skank Heads and Little Baby Swastikkka finish off the show in the way in which they started it…hard. Skin takes a trip to the sound desk during Little Baby Swastikkka and crowd surfs back to the stage as the band rounds off a perfect night in Manchester.

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