April 11, 2019: Skinny Lister – Electric Ballroom, London
“Challenge every bit of racism you see”
After Trapper Schoepp’s electro-acoustic set lulled the crowd into a false sense of security, The Wood Burning Savages came out to jolt them into the energy levels needed for the headliner. Their melodic screamo-punk set was punctuated with inclusive messages and singalongs.
“I never joined this band to make any money. It was just to get into festivals for free and have a good time!”
Skinny Lister’s shows always seem slick with the last song flowing seamlessly into the next without missing a beat. Within that, there was still time for a fan vote to add one song to the setlist. For the record, What Do You Say? won.
Fans were at the heart of the night. That’s because the band knows how lucky they are to have such devotion. They passed around TWO flagons of alcohol befitting the size of the room. Then, Lorna subtly handed a bottle of water to help a young woman who was suffering after getting caught up in the melee. Later, Geordie Lad was dedicated to a front row fan who was as thrilled as if they were the hottest boy band.
What’s the reason for all this adoration and energy? Well, the songs have a lot to do with it. New single Second Amendment is a well-observed look at U.S. gun culture. Perhaps little too close to the bone? “This one’s got me in trouble with a couple of American friends” singer Dan Heptinstall admitted!
Beyond that, it’s the performance. Specifically, the irrepressible energy and unwavering commitment from both the band and the fans. Right from the start, siblings Max (vocals, accordion) and Lorna (vocals, dancing, crowdsurfing) competed with each other and the crowd to have the absolute best time. Also, the way that everyone knew the word to folk standards John Kanaka and South Australia, and that they must shout along with every fibre of their being, was like a solemn ritual.
“We are Skinny Lister from London, England, and – most importantly – Europe!”
With both folk and punk influences, it’s no surprise that the band has strong political leanings. Lyrics cemented their take on the most important issue of the era in the UK, Brexit: “throw away the world to get your country back/why’d you got to go and do a thing like that?”
Certain words are overused in music journalism but with vibrant, heartfelt performances like this, Skinny Lister shows are unmissable. Not just for fans but also for Frank Turner, who descends as a mandolin player if he’s in town. That’s why he ended up joining Skinny Lister at Electric Ballroom and loving it! This reunion made for a raucous, joyous, inclusive ending to the show.
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