Skinny Lister – Devil Heart Fight Tour with Support from AJJ band
Rescue Rooms – Nottingham 03-05-17 and The Junction – Cambridge 04-05-17
Written by Martin Tillyer, Photos by Martin Tillyer, Edited by Fi Stimpson.
The first time I saw and heard Skinny Lister was as support for Frank Turner along with Will Varley in November 2015 at Rock City – these artists are all on the Xtra Mile Recordings label.
Since that date, I have also had the pleasure of seeing them headlining on the first part of the Devil Heart Fight tour in 2016 and then as support for the Dropkick Murphys in London in January 2017.
As soon as the dates for this year’s UK tour were announced I ordered tickets for both of the shows being reviewed here, from this you can gather that yes I do like their music and I also had an idea what to expect from them.
The support – The AJJ Band from America – were new to me, having only seen one video clip on YouTube. “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” comes over as a very quirky American pop type track. I have to say that having now seen them live they are so much more than that.
The Rescue Room gig was sold out and the room was nearly full for the AJJ set, some of crowd had obviously seen them before and knew what their shows were like.
As they came out it was obvious that there was kit sharing going on as the drummer was using Skinny Lister’s kit. I think that this was a good thing as they are then not forced to be cramped up onto a stage and left with no room to move and also allows for a quicker change over between bands, some of the more well-known bands should perhaps take note of this.
AJJ are touring as a four-piece band and start off with “Cody’s Theme”, the first track on their latest album “The Bible 2” which soon had the crowd moving around. They then played through a mixture of back catalogue and new songs that varied in pace, the slower numbers having the crowd listening to the thoughtful lyrics which showed the band’s observations on life. They are definitely a tight band and have the audience hooked; the energy they show is highlighted near the end of the set with the singer doing forward rolls around the stage. Anyone that likes Will Varley and Beans on Toast would definitely enjoy this and I know I will go to see them on their next tour.
The room fills up to capacity as we wait for Skinny Lister to come on with most having already seen them before; it was good to see people in the crowd that we had met previously at the Bodega gig last October, it feels like a big friendly party is about to start and it does with as they come onto stage to start off with “Wanted“ the first track off Devil Heart Fight, a real upbeat punchy number. They then proceed in the usual Skinny Lister party mode through tracks take from all of their Album releases with the majority of them from Devil Heart Fight (9), Down on Deptford Broadway (7) and Forge and Flagon (6).
Mid set they fitted in a new song “Thing Like That” which still has the typical Skinny punch too it, could well get to be a crowd favourite once more people know the lyrics.
There is a variance in pace as they slow down for some very soulful vocals from Lorna on tracks like “Bonny Away” sounding reminiscent of Sandy Denny.
Skinny Lister certainly entertain with a flagon of rum passed out among the audience (sad to say that the Flagon had disappeared at the end of the night).
Party George, Lorna and Max’s dad, was in the crowd and Lorna set off to see him going crowd surfing in a dress, she certainly is one very brave lady.
Scott Milsom the double bass player is certainly fitting in well having replaced Michael Camino – although I will miss his crowd surfing with the double bass.
They ended up with a three-track encore “Beat it from the chest”, “Hamburg Drunk” and “Six whiskies”, a track that should be played at the end of the night in any pub (it is on the playlist in my local).
It was interesting to go to The Junction 2 in Cambridge to see both bands the following night to see if they could party just as hard, this gig wasn’t sold out, this was possibly because of the band Alabama 3 playing in The Junction 1 next door.
Both bands produced sets that were of the same excellent quality as the night before with some variance in the setlist order. Skinny Lister had to resort to sending a bottle of rum into the audience due to the replacement flagon they had obtained needing to be cleaned out before it can be used.
The Skinny Lister audience is growing and I think they will soon be having to tour in larger venues, take your chance to see them in these smaller more intimate ones whilst you still can.
Both bands are very approachable and always spend time talking to the audience after the show, helping out with the merchandise sales and signing CD covers
Skinny Lister are a really hard working band and will be appearing at various festivals over the summer and continuing the Devil Heart Fight tour into Europe later in the year.
They are definitely worth seeing live – go to see them if you get the chance.