Carlisle, The Brickyard
May 24, 2013
Cult credibility, great songs and bags of charisma – Joe Whyte reviews The Skints
Despite the fact The Skints were playing about half a mile from my house on Monday night (King Tuts in Glasgow), the missus and I are quite fond of a little trip to Carlisle for gigs. Just over an hour on the train, venue a five minute walk and the excellent Thai restaurant just round the corner make it well worth the effort of getting out of Glasgow for the weekend.
Add to that The Skints, who in the last couple of years have released two first-class ska/reggae/punky albums, gaining accolades along the way, and we’re all set for a good ‘un.
Carlisle is an odd city, with the ancient citadel walls and gorgeous winding lanes just a bottle throw away from the main drag which is all happy hour pubs, kebab shops and off licences. As soon as darkness falls, the area is all fake tan, teetering heels and Geordie Shore-alike blokes with too-tight t-shirts, muscles and hair gel.
Thankfully, the area near The Brickyard is a little enclave of sanity, with the seventies-never-went-away grandeur of the Kings Head pub backing on to the building housing The Royal Ancient Order Of The Buffalo. Feeling safer amongst the friendly punk, ska and scooter boy crowd, drinks are ordered and we await The Skints.
The set begins with the two opening tracks from last years Part And Parcel and it’s clear that The Skints, despite their youth, are a well-drilled machine. Rise Up and Ratatat get the decent crowd moving and guitarist Josh is acting as MC whilst effortlessly knocking out the upstrokes.
Marcia, on vocals and keyboards is looking rather wan and Josh tells us she’s not been feeling well. It’s in no way obvious and her sweet, soulful vocals are crisp, clear and emotive.
Running straight into a cover of Dawn Penn’s No No No seems effortless; this is a band completely in control and able to hold an audience gripped.
My recent Four Past Midnight album review mentioned the paucity of singing drummers in rock. I hadn’t realised until tonight that sticksman Jamie takes most of the lead vocals through The Skints set. His talent is a beacon throughout and I’m left wondering if maybe The Skints should be letting him front the band. His relaxed style behind the kit is deceptive; the drumming is all snare crack, driving fills and rimshot blaze and he’d be a big pair of trainers to fill if he did move upfront.
The new single Out My Mind had left me a little cold on release, being a little poppy for me, but live, it really moves up a gear. This, I think, is The Skints problem and it’s not a bad one to have. They’re at that stage where they need to decide if it’s chart stardom they seek; they’re on the cusp of breaking through but remaining in the realm of their current punk/ska audience is clearly important to them. The Skints are that rarest of things just now. A band with cult credibility, great songs and bags of charisma.
Do we want them to be big?
Will it dilute them?
Certainly, no-one should deny them the chance. They’re a (very) young band and something as perfect as this should be in the charts. Take your choice. The Skints or X-Factor nobodies? Easy decision to make, I reckon.
Up Against The Wall highlights this; big, banging chorus and danceability all the way through. Bass player Jonathan Doyle’s looping, elastic runs are a highlight of the set. He barely cracks a smile till the end but he’s laying down bottom end that is shaking the venues floor.
By this point, there’s no-one in the house not dancing. Encoring with Culture Vulture, The Skints hop offstage absolutely drained and soaked in sweat.
The crowd file outside to the still-sunny evening, broad smiles aplenty.
You can’t ask for much more than that.
All words by Joe Whyte. More work by Joe on Louder Than War can be found here.