The six piece sprightly indie folk rockers, Skinny Lister leave you with a lasting impression if not by the high octane live performance but for sure with the sweat dripping from your brow after almost two hours of non stop uncontrollable dancing to folk anthems that cover the subjects of getting drunk, fighting and gypsy weddings. The band are bringing their moonshine circus around the UK in support of their recently released third studio album, The Devil, the Heart, and the Fight and are playing and selling out some of their biggest headline shows, such as this night at the modestly sized Ruby Lounge in Manchester.
The show kicked off with an instant shot of adrenaline with “Wanted”, a single taken from the new record is one that sticks to the Skinny Lister formula we’ve heard before with an extra edge of rock, it would usually be seen as a bold move introducing new music so soon but the crowd responded perfectly. The band look set to offer a mixed back catalogue as the second song is considered a fan favourite “If the Gaff Don’t Let Us Down”, a song of sea and sailing from their debut album “Forge & Flagon” before once again introducing new music with “Tragedy In a Minor”, it’s at this point vocalist Lorna Thomas, points out we’re only three songs in and may need to start pacing herself after swaying her flowery red dress wildly, caught up in the music as she sings and dances.
A sea of raised plastic cups emerges during the accordion stomping “George’s Glass”, as audience participation was not done as although the band have wrote several songs about towns and places that are a far cry from this city life, their music conveys a relatability that brings everyone together and it can be seen in all of it’s glory as the band break into the chest pounding sea shanty, “John Kanaka” in which every person in the venue was left red faced by pushing their vocal chords to the absolute maximum.
Taking a moment to let the band catch their breath lead singer, Dan Heptinstall engages the audience with ease by thanking them for their time and one audience member responds with “You’re f*****g amazing!” in a way you’d only expect from a Manchester native, with a wry smile and a quick cheers the band wind back into gear with fan favourites “Rollin’ Over”, “Trouble On Oxford Street” and “What Can I Say”.
The pace is slowed down to a sway for mellow sing song “Carry”, at the risk of taking the lyrics a little too literal it’s during this song that double bass player, Michael Camino and his double bass go for a brief crowd surf which is a sight to behold. After some brief guitar tech problems, the crowd were kept occupied by the introduction of the seventh member of the group, a flagon named “Forge the Flagon” is passed around the crowd as excited sips are taken of what can only be guessed as hard liquor, one way to keep an audience on your side. This wasn’t to be the last time a band member would enter the crowd as during “Geordie Lad”, Lorna decides to become a spectator and cheers the rest of the lads on from a fan’s shoulders, a story to tell when you get back home.
The band seem to fly through the rest of their set with the same mantra of introducing new while reigniting the love for the old as they play “Seventeen Summers”, “Fair winds and Following Seas” and “This Is War”, the latter seemingly an indicator the show was almost over as the crowd goes all in with feet stomping, arms flailing and smiles beaming.
Then came the part which most fans hate to see as the band begins to depart the stage, only to emerge within a minute or so for a three song encore that included the rock infused sea shanty “Beat It From The Chest”, the gypsy wedding inspired “Forty Pound Wedding” with the finale coming in the form of “Six Whiskies” as the crowd waves their arms goodbye to the band for one final time tonight.
The gang vocals, sprightly lyrics and bold as brass swagger are reasons why it’s hard not to like Skinny Lister’s music but it’s their unforgiving performances live that makes you love them that bit more, it’s a night out with friends, it’s a dance with your lover, it’s a tornado in a whiskey bottle and it’s simply something to behold, the bottom line is that if you’re looking for a fun time, Skinny Lister will always deliver.