Skinny Lister - O2 Academy, Leicester 15/10/2016

Skinny Lister – O2 Academy, Leicester 15/10/2016

At approximately 9.35pm Dan Heptinstall, dressed in his uniform white vest like a poster boy for Matalan, runs the gauntlet of scornful critics throughout the hall by hurtling headlong into ‘Injuries’ with the modest admission of “it won’t win the Mercury Prize/but gets something off my chest”. Perfect, that’s my review sorted then. Thanks Dan. Unfortunately for Skinny Lister, he’s probably right. There is little here for the music snobs to get their hipster beards in a twist over despite the surprisingly  warm welcome in the press to The Devil, the Heart & the Fight, their recent third album release. But that’s not really the point, I was last here 18 months ago at the same venue, in the same spot, just two days after the debacle of a General Election and for a good 90 minutes, the good ship Skinny cheered me up that night.

Fast forward. It’s a Saturday night, the venue is a sell out and judging by the average age of the crowd and the amount of Next apparel on display, the babysitters of Leics are raking it in tonight. These folks have come to party, make no mistake. Let me level with you, for all my desperate posing to be super-cool with my musical affections, it’s acts like Skinny Lister who remain lodged in my cranium long after any pseudo-intellectual knob-twiddlers from Hoxton. Eight songs in and the floor is already covered in spilt beer and discarded t-shirts as every catchy foot-stomper is cheered and celebrated like the return of a prodigal sibling. Then we get ‘John Kanaka’, the call to arms shanty for a generation who never went to sea. If your vocal capability isn’t already shot then it soon will be after this.

Key to the Skinny Lister experience is vocalist Lorna Thomas, a diminutive whirling dervish of a woman with the look of someone for whom butter wouldn’t melt but with an acerbic tongue likely to turn you to stone in a second. She acts as the fulcrum, taking centre stage and seemingly oozing out a centrifugal force to her band mates before hauling them back again just in time. She is also drunk, which only serves to melt away any notion that the band are in any way special. In the eyes of Skinny Lister, we are all one. Their role in proceedings is to bring the music and the rum, ours is to turn up with a bag full of goodwill and enough energy to power a small Leics village.

For the record (and to prove I was listening as well as dancing) the band continued their rambunctious and merry way through ‘Trouble on Oxford Street’, ‘Cathy’, ‘Geordie Lad’ and old favourite ‘Rollin’ Over’ before Lorna takes her leave during ‘Seventeen Summers’ only to re-appear seconds later next to me at the back of the hall. As the band play on she happily provides hugs for anyone who is need, and is a selfie takers wet dream as she poses for numerous photos with complete strangers. She is still drunk.

The encores play out with the ever-present ‘Forty Pound Wedding’ and ‘Six Whiskies’ which has the entire room swaying back and forth, arms around their loved ones, baying “I sing it until they arrest me/and I declare my undying love for you“. Collectively, we are as wrung out as some of these discarded t-shirts will need to be. Music will always be many things to many people but regardless of genre, is there anything as life-affirming as a live band on top form with the ability to connect seamlessly with their audience? These are the results gleaned from perpetual gigging and being downright nice to people. Seriously, if you cannot find the ability to roar yourself hoarse on a Saturday night to the alcoholic reverie of ‘Hamburg Drunk’ then I hope Brexit brings you all you deserve.

You really want me to sum up the Skinny Lister experience in a sentence? OK, I’ll try. Raucous? Yes. Uproarious? Definitely. Obstreperous? Quite possibly. But one helluva good night out, I just hope the babysitters of Leics got paid overtime.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.