Two and a half years have passed since Skunk Anansie last appeared on stage, but now they can finally embark on their Covid-19 delayed and now 27th-anniversary tour. No one seemed happier in Brixton with this than the band’s captivating frontwoman, Skin.
Skunk Anansie – Brixton Academy, 25 March 2022
Words: Geir Amundsen, Norway Rock Magazine
Photography: Eric Duvet
Skin came whizzing out on stage during the opening song, Yes It’s Fucking Political, grinning like a Cheshire Cat, with a wild headdress that made her look more like an orange-clad Maleficent. And it must have been really special for her to be greeted with a roar from an adoring and wild audience of 4900, just a stone’s throw from the street where she grew up.
Fair enough, it’s Skin that we are all staring mesmerized at, but Skunk Anansie has had the same lineup since 1995, and the band would not be the same without guitarist Ace, bassist Cass Lewis and drummer Mark Richardson, all of whom are essential ingredients in Skunk’s unique chemistry.
In recent years, they have been complimented on stage with Erika Footman, who has made them an even better live band with her strong backing vocals, keyboards and percussion. They were always explosive on stage, but she has given Skunk an extra dimension live.
And Jesus F. Christ, what an opening we got. The roof lifted from the audience’s singing time and time again, and I could hardly have made a better setlist for them myself. The debut Paranoid & Sunburnt was well represented with six songs, and they lobbed And Here I Stand, I Can Dream and Weak at us like hand grenades during the first twenty minutes.
And what can I say about Skin? My God, what an amazing person. She captivates everyone in the room and has the audience wrapped around her little finger as she patrols the stage edge like a snarling panther that you have no idea will rip your face off or roll on its back, purring as its belly is scratched. Even though she has turned 54, she could just as easily have been 27, and she just oozes eroticism and unpredictability. Rock has hardly ever seen a better female front figure, and I have still not even mentioned the angelic voice that makes Adele sound like Lemmy.
If you want to say something negative about the concert, it has to be the sound. It was muddy and horrible, especially the guitars, which were drowned out initially. But then we got a string of great songs that had everyone in the audience singing along to at the top of their voices – songs that most other bands would reserve for the encores, such as Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good).
Skunk has recently released a couple of new songs, and we got both the melodic Can’t Take You Anywhere early in the set and the furious punky Piggy as the first extra number. Brazen was a welcome surprise, a song they have not played live in over ten years. And even more surprising was a cover of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell, but if there is one song that can make absolutely everyone in the room sing along and throw their horns, that is it, regardless of whether you play for bikers, retirees or stockbrokers.
They ended with two of their more aggressive songs, The Skank Heads (Get Off Me), performed as a duet with Erica upfront with Skin, and Little Baby Swastikkka, before an exhausted, hoarse and happy audience staggered out in the streets of Brixton.
This was a near-perfect concert, a fireworks display of a performance where almost everything clicked, from song selection, performance, atmosphere and audience participation, not least thanks to the live wire of a front figure. The only thing that pulls down is the bad sound, but we can not blame the band for that.
God, what a wonderful evening.
Yes It’s Fucking Political
And Here I Stand
Because of You
I Can Dream
Twisted (Everyday Hurts)
My Ugly Boy
Can’t Take You Anywhere
100 Ways to Be a Good Girl
Love Someone Else
I Believed in You
God Loves Only You
Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)
This Means War
Intellectualise My Blackness
Tear the Place Up
Charlie Big Potato
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover)
The Skank Heads (Get Off Me)
Little Baby Swastikkka