Looking for a bit of live music before the end of the year, I idly explored the West End Centre's website and discovered a band called "Skinny Lister" was playing on the 5th December.
I'd never heard of them, but a quick Google suggested they were a "Punk-Folk Band", not a concept I'd ever encountered, so a bit of YouTube viewing ensued and they seemed a bit like the Pogues or Dexy's Midnight Runners, but with more teeth and less mannered performances (choose which one I mean from that), so I decided they'd be a bit of fun for a cold December evening. What did I have to lose?
I turned up expecting them to be on at 8, even telling my wife I would probably be home by 10PM! However, there was a support act, Jack Humphries, who was a decent performer with a foot-operated drum, a guitar and a harmonica. He did a few of his own songs, including one about getting off with an ex while he was high, and a decent cover of 'Dancing In The Dark', by Bruce Springsteen.
As support acts go, he was pretty decent, I'd not have minded seeing him on his own, to be honest.
After that we had about 40 minutes break until Skinny Lister arrived on stage.
And did they arrive!
None of this shuffling on, waving to the crowd, tweaking their instruments, the 5 men and 1, heavily pregnant, woman, hit the stage and BANG! Straight into their first song.
Two things were immediately clear. First, this was a band who were going to have a good time and they'd make bloody sure you did, too.
Secondly, there was a hard core of fans who clearly knew every song that they played.
So, what does Punk-Folk sound like? At one point, I thought it was a bit like a cross between The Pogues and Stiff Little Fingers - The playing was frenetic and fast and full of brash self-confidence, but there was a definite Folk-y twang to everything.
Frankly, it was brilliant.
The woman explained she was taking it easy as she had a 'little Lister on board' and actually disappeared from the stage a number of times for a few songs, but was back energetically joining in or singing lead for a while.
For around 90 minutes we rattled, exhaustingly, through songs I'd never heard before or very vaguely recognized from my YouTube browsing (Trouble on Oxford St, for example), but which others around me clearly held dear and sang along with every word.
A flagon of something was passed from the stage around the crowd (look up their videos on YouTube and you'll see it's a 'thing' for them), but as I was driving and had already had a pint, I passed, so I can't tell you what it was.
One song recounted the tribulations of putting unleaded in a Diesel Vehicle, another more folk song tune recounted the longing to be Rollin' Over valleys and hills to come home from a distant war. Some sounded like traditional folk songs or shanties (Bonny Away and Raise a Wreck, for example), while others were more Punk or Indie in style (Thing Like That and This is War, for example) and clearly self-penned. The vast majority were energetic and fast, with one or two exceptions.
Aside from a handful of people who clearly have fun in a very different way to me (Despite them not moving at all that I noticed, I assume they had fun as they stayed to the end!) everyone was bouncing and singing along, even if it was only to the catchy, easy to learn choruses, some without words at all!
Honestly, I reckon this was one of the best live performances I've seen - The energy and enthusiasm from the band was both impressive and infectious and I can see why some people were following them around.
At one point the lead singer mentioned they'd just done a tour in the US and Canada, which suggests they must have a reasonable following, but I'd never heard of them before!
After they finished their main set, they came back for a three-song encore, which kept the buzz going for a little longer and the lead guitarist came down and played in the crowd!
Photo from Skinny Lister's Facebook Page
Would I go and see them again? You bet and I suggest you do, too - As soon as you can!
Tragedy in A Minor
Devil in Me
My Life, My Architecture
Rattle and roll
What Can I Say
Any Resemblance to Actual Persons...
Bold as Brass
Thing Like That
This is War
Trouble on Oxford Street
Raise a Wreck