Think of Skunk Anansie and you think of Skin, their eternally sprightly and youthful frontwoman. Without her charisma and her voice, the band would have probably just been another Britpop also-ran. But she connected with the listeners and made this band special and worth remembering.
Eight years since they split up, it was great to see Skin and the boys back together for this, the final date of their European tour. As the band took their places and began the opening to Selling Jesus, Skin arrived in the shape of a glittery, silver bouncing pom-pom. Lyrics were bellowed out from within and everyone was immediately reminded how spectacular she can be.
When she eventually threw away the shackles of her pom-pom to reveal herself in a matching silver glittery suit, she looked exactly as she did over a decade ago. Can she really be in her 40s now?
She always was a stylish pop star, with her unashamed blend of masculinity and femininity ensuring her place on the roll call of important lesbian role models to a whole generation. Always willing to play the game, she seemed equally happy and at home doing Saturday morning children’s telly alongside high fashion shows.
Seeing her back, having apparently been cryogenically frozen since those days, was a treat for a lot of excitable fans at their homecoming Brixton gig. Having recently released a greatest hits album, Smashes And Trashes, they made their way through the bulk of their singles. Their releases could always be broadly divided into epic rock ballads (Weak, Brazen (Weep) and tonight’s final encore of Secretly) and over-the-top pop metal (Twisted, All I Want).
As they did back in the day, they pulled off the ballads more effectively. The sweeping tales of love lost tended to complement Skin’s operatic vocal ability, while she could be a bit shrill on the heavier stuff. While their material was always a bit hit and miss, the fans needed both and obliged by headbanging or swaying depending on what was appropriate.
Attention waned as some of the weaker tracks were trotted out, but a set list largely devoid of padding ensured that it didn’t wane for long. Even the newer tracks Because Of You and Squander stood up well. While they stay safe to the Skunk Anansie formula, breaking no new ground, they could have sat quite happily on any of the old albums.
So ultimately this reunion is a welcome piece of nostalgia. Whether or not there could be more than just that is open to debate. They could find a new, younger audience, but as Skin repeatedly stage-dived and even walked above her fans during Weak, it’s clear that either way, Skunk Anansie have enough loyalty to support themselves by singing to the converted.