Date: 16th June 2017
Review and Photography by: Graham Hilling
Opening tonight for the Skids are The Vapors. For the uninitiated, these guys were around in the late 80’s and had a top ten hit with “Turning Japanese” in 1980. They toured with the Jam and were quite big at the time.
However, the band split up in 1982. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was the last you’d hear of them especially as they all went on to successful careers in other fields but in 2016 they gently tip toed back to the live music scene.
Fast forward a few months and we’re at the Roundhouse, with the Vapors warming up the crowd for the Skids. These guys specialise in great singalong choruses with the tunes to back them up. Dave Fenton looks like a happy man, even though the early evening crowd looks a little thin in the cavernous Roundhouse setting. Rumours of new material, and even a new album seem to on the cards with at least one new song on show tonight.
It’s the old favourites that has the crowd bouncing around though. “Jimmie Jones” gets a ripple of applause to which Fenton replies, “You shouldn’t cheer him, it’s not clever!” “Turning Japanese” gets the expected result, a great singalong with everyone joining in.
Crackly guitar leads interrupt the flow a little, and, to be honest, the sound throughout is a little bit underwhelming. No matter though, the crowd are wrapped up in the moment and no doubt taken back in time (me included).
Dave Fenton informs us that Ed Bazalgette has just flown in from France (I guess specifically for the gig) – much appreciated Ed! “Waiting for the Weekend” and “Bunkers” both go down well and before we know it the set is done and dusted.
Soon it is time for the Skids to celebrate their 40 year anniversary. This is a band I grew up with but never actually saw. While they were no doubt punk, it was always punk with a dash of panache, a touch of style. The songs were never 3 chord wonders, while still retaining something very raw and real.
This is glaringly obvious on the 1979 album “Scared to Dance”. An absolute masterpiece that I probably didn’t fully appreciate when it originally came out! Starting with “Animation” and then straight into “Of One Skin” which is a stormer of a song gets the now nicely filled Roundhouse bouncing along.
Before I know it, I’m covered in beer that seems to be flying around….this is a punk gig after all! Bit of a surprise, none the less, given that beer at the Roundhouse is not super cheap! Then onto “Melancholy Soldiers” and it is clear this is going to be a special night indeed.
Jobbo dances around the stage like a man half his age, clearly enjoying the gig. Amazingly charismatic, a major stage presence and a cracking voice, he is a superb frontman. He comments on the Grenfell Tower fire, “..that shit was off of the scale….”. Commenting on the fact that there were some firefighters at the gig leads to spontaneous applause. Likewise, the mention of Stuart Adamson, so instrumental in making the Skids the band they are, leads to an extended bout of applause. There is a real warmth of feeling between the band (and Jobbo in particular) and the audience. The dual guitars of father and son combo, Bruce and Jamie Watson sounding massive and right on the money.
This does feel like something special. Classic song after classic song sees the crowd bobbing up and down (not bad for the mature audience that has assembled for this evening, and I’m counting myself in this description). “Yankee Dollar”, “The Saints Are Coming”, “Scared to Dance”, “Charles”, the classics continue to roll out and this reviewer, for one, is standing listening with a massive grin on his face.
“Hurry on Boys” has the crowd singling along but this turns out to just be a warm up for “A Woman in Winter” which has what seems like the whole auditorium singing the intro. Fantastic stuff and it all sounds very good now with the earlier sound problems all ironed out. The trio of songs that take us the conclusion of the set, “Circus Games”, “Masquerade” and the mighty “Into the Valley” with its’ iconic bass line only serve to hammer home what a great gig this has been. Fab songs that instantly take me back in time but this is not just a nostalgia trip, these are truly epic and original songs, two qualities that seems to be in short supply these days.
Taking a quick break, the band returns after a short break with “Charade”, another classic in a long line of classics. Jobbo tells the crowd how refined they have been in not shouting for “TV Stars” (not their finest song!) and they then proceed to play this little piece of Skids history, joined by the crowd in the singalong Albert Tatlock chorus! Finishing off with “Of One Skin” again is the perfect way to finish off the evening.
However, before leaving the stage Jobbo encourages the crowd to sing the intro to “A Woman in Winter” again and this just sounds so cool! A fantastic gig, the best of 2017 so far for me for sure. Please don’t leave it so long to return to London next time!