Skunk Anansie headlined Glastonbury once. No, really. Amit Sharma went along to catch their re-union tour when it rolled into Brixton.
There’s not really that much British Music to be proud of from the nineties: we were bombarded with Britpop, whilst the lucky badgers across the pond got to enjoy the Grunge explosion. This era of uninspired bedwetting and parka-hooded swagger, often referred to as ‘Cool Britannia’, held precious little cool though for music fans of the rock persuasion.
It was almost as if Britain was reassuring ourselves we were back on top after a dodgy spell in the 80s, and the only way the nation could sleep at night was if Geri Halliwell and Noel Gallagher were out there donning the Union Jack telling everyone that was the way it was. Skunk Anansie had something really different to offer, and though they often got lumped into the same scene as Stereophonics and Supergrass, they were very much the freaks of mainstream British 90s rock .
Tonight’s sold-out show is the last night of their first tour since reforming after an 8 year break – they started with two intimate shows at the Water Rats under the alias SCAM earlier in the year. It’s somewhat fitting that the tour is ending in Skin’s home town of Brixton. The band stroll on very much like local heroes to a dance mashup of ‘Yes It’s Fucking Political’, before launching straight into ‘Selling Jesus’, sounding just as venomous as they always have. Skin is just a blur of gold, racing around the stage in a giant sparkly tinsel costume without missing a word. This is swiftly followed with the drum n bass intro to ‘Charlie Big Potato’, which just booms throughout the entire Academy before kicking in with its staccato riff and bittersweet lyrics.
It’s pretty amazing how they all look exactly the same and not a day older – almost as if they’ve been swimming with those wrinklies from Cocoon. Cass stands tall, shaking his mammoth tentacle dreadlocks whilst laying down some thick sounding bass lines that verge on reggae at points, and locking in tightly with Mark Richardson who’s spent the past few years drumming for Feeder (poor sod!). Ace looks more than at home on the other side, looking pretty content with himself and sounding gargantuan through his lush Cornford rig whilst Skin, now unravelled into a sequinned jumpsuit, spits and rants as she climbs up the monitors.
Tonight’s set has a slight emphasis on debut album Paranoid And Sunburnt, with choice offerings from Stoosh and Post Orgasmic Chill and highlights included the soulful ‘Brazen (Weep)’, the grungey trash of ‘I Can Dream’ and ‘Twisted (Everyday Hurts)’. There aren’t too many bands that have influences so varied and still manage to pull it off without losing their own identity – there’s elements of punk, metal, pop and even dance somewhere in there.
Watch some fan-shot footage of Skunk Anansie’s Brixton show
The encores kick off with 90’s tearjerker ‘Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)’, Skunk Anansie’s finest commercial moment, followed by new single ‘Squander’. Then followed ‘Little Baby Swastikkka’ – which climaxed with possibly the most organised stage invasion my eyes have ever seen. Just when they think it’s all over, and half the crowd have already dispersed onto the frosty streets of Brixton, the band return for a final encore of ‘Secretly’, as an early Christmas presents for the superfans that are left.
Skunk Anansie @ London Brixton Academy setlist
Intro (Yes Its Fucking Political)
Charlie Big Potato
Because of You
100 Ways to Be a Good Girl
I Can Dream
I Don’t Want To Kill You
Twisted (Everyday Hurts)
On My Hotel TV
Tear The Place Up
The Skank Heads
Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)
Little Baby Swastikkka