Let’s be honest here - Skin were way down on the list of bands I ever expected to see play live again. It’s been eleven years since they last performed (until last night, anyway), and thanks to a surprise invitation to play Download and some hasty telephone work, one of the best UK bands of the 90s has returned, albeit briefly, to rock us a few more times.

There’s no support tonight, with the band taking the stage early because of the tube strike, not wishing to strand any fans in central London by forcing them to stay too late. The club is full, with both shows having sold out simply through word of mouth (and internet), with the walls plastered in photographs of the many famous musicians who have graced the small stage. Worth noting is the fact that Jo the merchandise girl used to play keyboards in Terrorvision, but unfortunately that guy working the claokroom isn’t Tony Wright. Okay, so it’s not exactly star studded, but it’s nice to see her.

Speaking of stars, the band are introduced by none other than Krusher Joule, a man whose growly tones have been heard for many a year around the metal scene, as far back as the mid Eighties, when he compared a few Monsters Of Rock shows amongst other things. I get a little nostalgic twinge as he gets the crowd chanting and cheering, with the twinge becoming a full blown throb as Skin come out. Back in the day I was lucky enough to see them several times, and I can honestly say they never gave a bad show. Straight out of the traps it’s bloody obvious that the guys are as tight as ever, with “Am I the One” and “Experience Electric” thunder out of the speakers. Singer Nev McDonald sounds absolutely brilliant, aided by a truly top rate sound mix. He looks like a the cat that got the cream, some nice roast mouse and an ermine scratching post - honestly, if the man smiled any harder his head would split in half. To his right, Myke Gray looks disgustingly fit, a fact reinforced by the fact that at 41 he is only too happy to whip off his shirt (like he always did before) and show off abs of steel. His guitar work is precise, and I swear a couple of times he even looks like he might be having fun. The same can be said of bassist Andy Robbins and drummer Dicki Fliszar, both of whom look completely at home and play with a vigour and verve that would put many young bands to shame. The band is completed by the keyboards of Colin McLeod (of the clan McLeod), completing the original touring line up.

The crowd seem to be having a whale of a time, with what seems like everyone knowing most of the words and trying to drown out Nev at every opportunity. There’s a real party atmosphere, and it brings back a lot of memories, all of them good. Nev’s voice is exactly as it used to be, not a bad feat for a guy who hasn’t sung anything more than karaoke for eleven years. He’s like a cross between Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Barnes, a fact reinforced by his haircut, which is very Barnes circa “Freight Train Heart”. The shows in London and the one tomorrow in Wolverhampton are being filmed for a live DVD, and if they catch anything near the atmosphere being generated it’s certainly going to be worth investigating. All the old favourites are aired, from “Shine Your Light” and the mellow but brilliant “Tripping” through to the singalong classic cheese of “Look But Don’t Touch”. I honestly can’t fault any part of the show, although the encore is a bit odd (the band troop off for about, ooh, 30 seconds before coming back), with the boys managing to rank up there with bands like Airborne for sheer exuberance, talent and plain old fun. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of Skin, because on tonight’s evidence it would be a crime. Tidy…

Set List:

The Only One: Experience Electric: Blow My Mind: No Way Out: Colourblind: Tripping: Love Like Suicide: Money: House Of Love: Take Me Down To The River: Look But Don't Touch: Tower Of Strength: Unbelievable: How Lucky You Are: Perfect Day

Review by Alan Holloway, alan "at" rockunited.com
Photos by Alan Holloway

25 June 2009
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