Boogooyamma Records (label)
23 September 2013 (released)
17 September 2013
When Skunk Anansie announced that they were going to be performing their first ever live and unplugged acoustic show at The Cadogan Hall in front of 900 people, fans up and down the country were scrambling for their credit cards. When tickets went on sale for the event they sold out within hours. With the band coming up to their 20th anniversary, maybe it was time for them to do something totally out of their comfort zone.
When SA formed in 1994, British women had, at last, a contemporary, strong, powerful woman, who not only rocked a bald head in a pair of doc martens, but had a voice which was literally flawless. Skin, the lead singer, was able to growl out political lyrics that made you jump up and down and scream back in agreement, but also stir up your emotions that you thought had been swallowed deep and hidden in the pit of your stomach. It was cool to be a woman with a strong opinion. This was girl power way before The Spice Girls. This was female empowerment with guts, balls and eyeliner. Don’t let me mislead you; they weren’t just an alternative girl rock band. Oh no! Men were equally just as satisfied.
So, did 90s alternative rock band, Skunk Anansie give a mind-blowing performance or was it a total blow-out? There are many songs from all of their albums that are not as heavy as the others so it is quite surprising that they hadn’t done an acoustic concert before now. What would be interesting to see is whether their harder and rockier songs would translate well being stripped back without the back-up of electric guitars.
Some rock musicians, as they get older, lose their hair. Skin has done the complete opposite and has kept the short crop that she started to grow when the group disbanded in 2001. Striding on stage, bald she may not be, but striking she still is. Her steely ‘don’t mess with me’ stare only flared up at relevant points during the songs. The venue, although full with 900 people, seemed intimate and personal. Her outfit was electrifying! Shoulder pad apparel that will have Joan Collins calling and asking for her wardrobe back. Skin pulled it off with aplomb.
So what about the music? Opening with Brazen from their 1996 album Stoosh you can tell you are in for one heck of a ride. There is a good mixture from their first 3 albums and a couple of more recent tracks from when they reformed in 2009. There is even a cover version in there. Paul Weller’s You Do Something to Me, may scare some artists, but not Skin. She has gentleness in her voice that is just perfect for it. Song after song, Skunk Anansie showcase a vast vault of supeb tracks that still sound as fresh today as they did when they were first released. Skin says herself that they are playing some of the tracks for the first time in many years. For the viewer it feels like you only heard them for the first time on the radio the other day. Their songs haven’t aged and neither has Skin. Her voice still has that raw emotion and passion and it’s an absolute honour to listen to it. When they finished off with their mosh-pit heavy Charlie Big Potato, it worked. Man, did it work! It didn’t need the amp. It didn’t need the electric guitar. It was beautiful. With the band playing alongside the orchestra it was mind-blowing and more. Whether you were or weren’t one of the lucky 900, this is a great DVD and live album and one for the collection. Snap it up!