LIVE REVIEW: Skinny Lister at Lafayette, London

Skinny Lister
Skinny Lister. Credit: Pitlad

For too long now, a trend has emerged where people pay no interest to the support act or acts opening the leading performer. Venues are often barely a third packed within the first half an hour, and even when venues are fuller, audiences are often not interested and present. Hence, they miss out on an opportunity to see an upcoming new act or a less-known act they would not necessarily otherwise have the privilege of seeing.

Even if one was not initially present and went to Lafayette early to secure a good spot at this sold-out gig, both support acts brought your presence and interaction to the surface, even if they had been buried amongst the deepest shipwrecks.

As soon as the full-throttle alternative folk band Man the Lifeboats addressed the stage, they impressed with an accordion-led instrumental followed by the Flogging Molly and Dead South fused “Somers Town”. Then, the politically charged “I Killed A Man” was perfected with Jon Sevink-inspired fiddles. With Man the Lifeboats promising “a good old-fashioned Christmas party”, they naturally played their own sing-a-long Christmas song, “Whisky for Christmas”.

Despite being relatively unknown, the audience sang along to the next song, “The Ballad of Sarah Hughes”, as if it were a folk staple. The primary support, Americana charting Nobel Jacks, played with a slim-lined lineup of two. Nonetheless, with no backing tracks, Nobel Jacks possessed the prowess of a full band lineup. Whilst folk traditionalists at heart, leading with the harmonica “The Ramblers Theme”, had riffs not dissimilar to “Black Betty”.

With two fantastic support acts who engaged the crowd as if they were the headliners in their own right, with this show being the last leg of the UK and Ireland tour, the crowd were optimistic and excited for Skinny Lister. Apart from the non-stop energy of fusing the inspired punk with folk, Skinny Lister’s genius lies in getting the crowd to join in whilst ensuring more profound and more poignant lyrics such as “I wanna feel life, I wanna feel love” on opener “Wanted. The lyrics “giving up on stuff is not my style” to the bridge on “Unto the Breach” further engaged the audience. “Cathy” echoed the genius of Bellowhead’s “London Town”. “Colours” showed a more confident and tender side to the five-piece, whilst “What Can I Say” honoured The Decembrists.

The punk and politically fuelled “This is War” came from softer songs. As well as the songs themselves, Lorna’s ability to brave into the crowd, dance with audience members, and get them to bend over, arm wrestle other members, and keep singing whilst being caught up in mosh pits added another layer of fascination.

Community and collectiveness are often overlooked when assessing a live performance. Sincere cohesiveness was demonstrated when band members Lorna and Maxwell Thomas’ dad George joined the band to take lead vocals on “William Harker”. All the support act members entered the stage when Skinny Lister covered “Fairytale of New York”, who then played out with “Six Whiskies”.

For me, the event of 2023 was this final leg of Skinny Lister’s UK and Ireland tour with Man the Lifeboats and support Nobel Jacks at Lafayette. Folk was revived and revolutionised and led the resistance against AI, or at least how audience members should experience support acts.


Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 331 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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