Skunk Anansie, The Vryll Society O2 Ritz, Manchester , 27-5-17

I did consider going to see the show in Bristol, but as i also wanted to see The Mission, it made sense to go Sheffield & then have 2 nights in Manchester (The 2nd night was meant to be The Cranberries,but unfortunately, it got cancelled). In light of the atrocity that Manchester suffered earlier in the week , i knew this one would be emotionally charged for EVERYONE, but didn’t expect it to be quite so amazing as it turned out to be. I have so much respect for da Skunks for not cancelling the show…but then i always knew they wouldn’t because their hearts are in the right place. Terrorism will not break us.
My train from Sheffield to Manchester ran on time & i was met by Jim at the station (Incidentally, he was meant to be seeing Maiden in London on this day, but ditched it after i told him i had a +1 for Skunk. A very wise choice mate ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Went & checked into the hotel,then grabbed some food etc. After that we went to the venue. I was surprised to see Theo so far back in the queue ! Aliya was the first in queue (well done) & then the Italian Skunk Army followed. As i was working my way along the line, saying hello to everyone, the band arrived, so we followed Ace into the venue. I noticed there was some bird shit on my t-shirt ! Good luck ? (Cheers to Sylvia for the wet-wipe to clean it off). Whilst waiting for our passes to be sorted, most of the band walked by to their dressing rooms. I had a real nice chat with Erika. She said i had more colour in my face than last time we met at Brixton. Those small words are so huge to me & it helps to give me strength & positivity.
Passes sorted we checked out the balcony for a good position. Soon enough the band started soundchecking. They play various songs including full versions of “Ugly Boy” & “Weak”. There’s a funny moment when they tried out the smoke machine….it just kept going on & on till the stage was filled with smoke! Someone said ” I think we’ve got enough smoke now!” Closely followed by ” Well that was a real Spinal Tap moment ๐Ÿ™‚ “.
After a while, we go downstairs to watch the remainder of soundcheck.ย ย 

A few minutes after they’d finished, Ace comes back & asks if we’d like any food from catering. We decide on just coffees….or in Jims case, tea mixed with coffee ๐Ÿ˜‰
Have a nice chat with Ace. I ask why he needed me to send the audio of “Feel” to him recently. (I’d wondered if they’d add it to the set or something. Turns out it could be used in a film ๐Ÿ˜‰ You heard it here first… We talk about all sorts of things such as how much it’s a struggle for “new” bands to make an impact & being able to survive on the little money they make (if any)
Mark asks me an interesting question : “When you follow tours around for multiple dates, do you not get bored of the same thing every night?”. My reply is that no two nights are ever the same. There’s many reasons why i do it. Some bands change set lists around, there are good & not so good audiences, there can be “off nights” due to illness or whatever. The list goes on. I love meeting new people who have a similar passion about music (or just one band) as what i have. Travelling around the UK & Europe i’ve met many people who have become great friends along the way. But overall, a gig is about many different people coming together to have a great night out & forget all there worries for an hour & half or so. Going slightly off track, i mention how i used to record gigs (audio) & back in ’84 Iron Maiden used to change set lists on a few shows. (Though i think it was just to warm them up for Hammersmith gigs,which they were recording for a live album). Of course, back in the day, i traded with other people doing the same. It’s funny when i come across a boot CD & i can work out it’s my recording. Mark then jokingly asks “Have you got any Skunk bootlegs?”…then quickly says ” …oh you’ve already sent them to me haven’t you ๐Ÿ˜‰ “. (Which is true ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
I mention how it was such a loss when Chris Cornell died recently & that it was so unexpected. I guess you never know what’s going on in someones mind. Mark says a big problem is there are not enough support groups for musicians etc to tackle their addictions, anxiety or depression. He then tells me of his work with “Music Support”. I have so much respect for him doing this. He’s seen the other side, so knows how to truly help. (Later, during the gig, he tells the crowd “Every tour we have a charity & the charity of choice on this tour is Music Support…they’ve already helped some of the survivours from the there are some signed drum heads & all the money will go to Music Support..)
I have a brief chat with Leigh ; she asks how i’m doing (health wise….she was very supportive to me when i was first diagnosed…. ) then we go take our positions up on balcony. I see many friends rushing in for those first row positions.
The opening act tonight are “The Vryll Society”. My first time seeing them. Their singer looked like a cross between Liam Gallagher & Tim Burgess…but didn’t sound anything like either of them ๐Ÿ˜‰ The first song was quite cool. But overall, they didn’t really do much for me (sorry). Anyway, lets face it, like many other here tonight, i’m here for the mighty Skunk Anansie…

House lights go down & there’s the familiar sirens sound over the pa. The guys casually walk on stage to cheers from the crowd. As ever, the biggest cheers are when skin appears ๐Ÿ™‚ The go straight into “And Here I Stand” then “Intellectualise My Blackness” from their debut album all those years ago. They’re both still so powerful & relevant after all this time. The crowd is already jumping along like crazy. Skin seems to have an extra skip to her step & is feeding off this great audience. Already, i can tell this is gonna be one of those really special gigs.

Skin introduces Eri as she comes over to middle of the stage. She says ” This is from the acoustic thing we did & it’s quite poignant tonight.” (I can see her gritting her teeth as she says it. This is “I Will Break You “. I love this song nowadays. The vocal “fight” between Skin & Eri is kinda mesmerizing.
Damn it’s a LOUD crowd tonight. Skin seems impressed saying “There’s so much love in this room”. She also has a question…the immortal one; ” Are you ready to dance ?!!”. If you’ve seen Skunks before, you’ll already know it’s the classic “Twisted (Everyday Hurts)”

They carry on with another “bouncy” song, “My Ugly Boy”. It’s hard to believe this song is already seven years old already ! Next we get an absolute classic from their debut album, namely, “Weak”. After all these years, i’m still astounded by the quality of skins vocals. After “Hedonism” she notices a wee girl on someones shoulders & asks how old she is. She’s only 10 ! Skin then says “Start em young,that’s what i say” & dedicates the next song, “Victim” to her ๐Ÿ™‚ If ever there was some good parenting, this girls parents certainly are good. They chose wisely taking her to a Skunk show ๐Ÿ™‚
We get a few more of the more “recent” songs which just seem to fly by. All the time, the energy & love in the room is just amazing. When they get to “God Loves Only You”, skin basically says how appropriate this song is in the light of recent events. For myself, this is the song that stood out the most tonight. I don’t mind saying i had a few tears of joy for this one.

The next one, “We Don’t Need Who You Think You Are” probably works in a similar way. Standing against the terrorists & others such as Mr Trump. You could go so far as to say “Yes It’s Fucking Political” ๐Ÿ™‚ The main set finishes with “Little Baby Swastikkka”. Skin comes out into the crowd & gets everyone to crouch down. As ever, she has the crowd in the palm of her hand. It’s about mutual respect. I bloody love it when i see her doing this. When she gets the crowd to jump up, she stays in there amongst them. I briefly cast my mind back to a few days previous when a certain American guy split the audience down the middle & walked amongst the crowd. But he didn’t stay there for the going crazy part. Think of that as you will, but i’ll say skin has more balls than him ๐Ÿ˜‰

In a slight change to the setlist, the first encore is “The Skank Heads “. The adrenaline rush is amazing. They then slow things down with the beautiful “Tracy’s Flaw”. After that, skin says that Mark has something to say. As i previously wrote, he mentions the Manchester bombing from a few days back & how they’re doing a charity thing called “Music Support” this gets big cheers. Skin then introduces the band members ; “The Horse Boy “, “One of the best bass players….on this stage”, “In the beautiful corner,Eri” , “Big love goes out to our manager Leigh”, ” Last & exceptionally least…is this lovely streak of piss….the riff meister himself..Aaace !”. They all do a little jam & then it’s my fave Skunk song ever : “Charlie Big Potato”

They briefly go off stage & i’m sure they’re lapping up the adulation from this fantastic crowd tonight. What a night it has been. Of course, that’s not the end though. We get one more final song “You’ll Follow Me Down”.ย ย ย (last pic stolen from Skunks FB page ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
Tonight has been magical. After seeing loads of Skunk gigs over the years, i’d say this was the best one ever. Band & audience were as one. We all showed that terrorists cannot & will not beat us. As the crowd is leaving, we notice someone flicking the Vs at me ! I send the same message back to him ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s my mate Nomis from Leeds ๐Ÿ˜‰
We then start making our way downstairs & bump into him half way. Have a quick chat & then Nom & Liz are off back home.
I finally get the chance to have a chat with Anastasia ! Our paths have not crossed since we first met in Portugal quite a few years back. I guess i was the first Skunk Head she met ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just a shame we didn’t get a photo together tonight ๐Ÿ™ Cass takes everyone up to the bar. Tonight it’s a free bar! Maybe that’s why it was so busy up there haha. No, they look after their fans ๐Ÿ™‚ I also get to catch up with Laura. Again, so good seeing you my dear ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

As is always the case, the band get swamped by their friends & fans. I hang back as always ๐Ÿ˜‰ But saying that, we did get a couple of nice photos & i kinda got one with Anastasia when she did i nice photo-bomb out of Eris shoulder lol


I was getting tired so had to leave. Sorry for not saying goodbye to everyone. Couldn’t believe it when we got outside; it was chucking it down. At least i’d got a close hotel. Jim walked with me to said hotel ( “….make sure Simon gets to his hotel ok…” ). We have a quick chat and arrange a meet up next morning. He then leaves to go to the guest house he’s staying at…. that has budgerigars ! lol
Following day i suggest he has breakfast here…well, i had prepaid for 4 of them (The 2nd day i didn’t bother staying. With the Cranberries cancelling, there was nothing to keep me in Manchester). It was a decent breakfast. Said our goodbyes at the train station & now looking forward to Camden Rocks next weekend.

Heart , FM, O2 Apollo, Manchester 30-6-16


The plan today was that Andy would drive us to Lincoln, i’d have my treatment, then drive to Adys at Withern. Ady would then drive us all to Manchester. Best laid plans…. Well, the journey to Lincoln went fine, until we got there. As i was walking up to oncology, it suddenly dawned on me that, i’d forgot to take my medication! What an idiot! First time i’d done that. Thing is, the meds need to be in my system for an hour before they can do radiotherapy. So sheepishy went up to Julie on reception & explained my error. They’re always kind & understanding here & within a minute or so it was arranged that i come back an hour later (when meds had kicked in) & my treatment would follow. We went for a wander around “Go Outdoors” which is close by ๐Ÿ˜‰ Once back, my treatment ran smoothly & we were on our way to Withern by 12.30. Once at Adys we set off for Manchester. The traffic was pretty awful & the weather was threatening rain (Hey, it’s Manchester, what else do you expect?) After a couple of wrong turns etc, we eventually parked up near venue & went for a wander. Found The Pub/Zoo, so had quick drinks there. When we got back to the apollo, doors had opened & we just went straight in to our seats. Whilst they were at end of a row, they were close, so decent view.

DSC07537ย DSC07539
FM started things off & were their usual selves. A fine quality band. Don’t think i’ve ever seen a bad show by them. They only had a short set, of 7 songs, but still managed to cover all bases of their career, with old classics like ” I Belong To The Night “, “That Girl “, “Bad Luck”. A pretty balanced set list, especially when given such a short slot. Steve Overland STILL has a fantastic voice. Loved their set !

Having not played the UK since 2004 ( ! ) Heart were well overdue for their return. When i saw the dates, i decided Manchester & Glasgow were my best options. Whilst the trip to Glasgow is expensive, seeing the size of the venue etc, i decided to push the boat out ๐Ÿ˜‰
Heart started off with ” Magic Man “. An absolute classic from the early days. Then it’s staight into a song from their ’80s commercial peak ;
” What About Love ?”. Anns vocals are sounding pretty fine. At the time of the gig, i didn’t have the new album (might not have been released yet actually), so didn’t know what to expect of the new stuff. We were about to find out what to expect, with the next song , ” Beautiful Broken”. This is a really good song. Has a nice edge to it. Good old school rock n roll! (Please also note, on the studio version, James Hetfield backs them up. This version, in my humble opinion, is even better that the live, on their own, version. Also for the real Fanatics out there ๐Ÿ˜‰ this song was also on the previous album release “Fanatic”. Supposedly it’s totally different sounding. I don’t know as don’t own that album ) Interesting they decided to include a ” Lovemongers” song, called “Sand”, in the setlist. Then we’re back to the heady ’80s for ” These Dreams ”

When is a cover song not a cover song ? When it’s “Two” by Ne-Yo. Apparently they heard the song, asked Ne-Yo if they could use/have it & he agreed. It’s yet to be seen if Ne-Yo does his own version or not. We then get a bunch of old classics including ” Straight On “, ” Sweet Darlin” & “Kick it Out”.

There were a couple of things which surprised me about this show. Firstly, that they didn’t play “Alone”. I think that was their biggest hit in the UK (?) so why not play it?. Secondly, ย was the fact they finished with 3 Led Zeppelin covers. It’s a well known fact that the sisters love a bit of Zep, but, surely it would be better to finish with one of your own songs ??
Overall, it was a great night. Very balanced set list which leaned towards the real old songs. Something i liked ๐Ÿ™‚ There were a couple of small moments where i thought Ann might be struggling, but, considering how long they’ve been doing this, it’s amazing her voice has held out so much over the years. Much respect.

Skunk Anansie , Albert hall, Manchester, 4-2-16

Scans0601My journey got off to a bad start when my first train was cancelled in Sheffield ! But transferred to another train (company) it worked out ok. Got to the venue early afternoon & said hello to the band as they arrived. Met a couple of cool guys from the Netherlands who had drove over for the UK dates.ย Queued for a couple of hours to ensure those front row positions. Didn’t know anything about the support act “Bones” & i wasn’t gonna find out anything tonight as they didn’t manage to get to the gig in time! Even though nothing was announced,to say they wouldn’t be there, i’d already worked it out as the drum skin uses on “Tear The Place Up” was onstage. So we knew the first song of the night already ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 20160204_201235

So, tonight is the first night of the tour. They can often be a time of many small errors during the show & tonight will be no exception. TTPU is a great song to start the show with. No messin, head on & full rockin. There’s no lettin up for the next songs “I Believed In You”, “That Sinking Feeling “, ” Because Of You”. ย skin was quick to stage dive early in the show..

DSC00093DSC00094Tonights show is a decent mix from various albums & obviously, the songs from Anarchytecture are being pushed a lot. Incidentally, i LOVE the album. It has different sounds/styles & i really think this is the album they shoulda made last time to “move forward”. Typically, skin came out into the crowdย during “Weak”.

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I have so much respect for her that she does this seemingly without fear.

Somewhere during the show skin totally forgot the lyrics to one song. I think if she’d not mentioned it later, she would have got away with it as well (no, actually, she DID get away with it lol). The main set is finished with the classic “Charlie Big Potato”. That’s my fave Skunk song.

To come back with an encore of “100 Ways To be A Good Girl” was just great. Yet another old classic.In fact, the whole encore was perfection (song wise) The show finished withย ย “Little Baby Swastikka” along with the biggest balls up of the night! Anyone who’s seen this performed live before, will be aware of the lighting when skin comes down the front of the stage. I dunno if it was a new lighting guy or what,but, when skin said “Red light” firstly there was just WHITE lights! She then said ” that’s not a red light”. Which was hilarious ๐Ÿ˜‰ The night ended with a few mates in the bar next to the venue. Overall, a great start to the tour. Damn, i had missed seeing Skunks live !

Guano Apes, @ Hop & Grape, University, Manchester 4-5-01

GAmcr2Gamcr1StudeMcr(Photos from the soundcheck)

I remember being a bit paranoid about leaving my car as the venue is close to Moss side. After a word with Kirsten, it was arranged so i could park up next to the tour bus in a more safer place ๐Ÿ˜‰ Had a good old chat with their merch guy ( Frankie? ) at this show. He gave me one of the dodel up key rings. Funniest thing was that i thought he was offering me a sweet cos of the small packet etc. The audience at this show were pretty much a bunch of muppets. People were more interested in crowd surfing than getting into the music. I told Guido that it would get rough & he nailed down the monitors at front of stage.

PJ Harvey, Dirty 3, The Academy,Manchester 19-12-98

00367 pj

10-12-98 (original date)

When i arrived early afternoon, there were a few people hanging around & i heardย people say theyโ€™d seen PJ crying during sound check. This got me worried. Well, eventually, out came the info the show was cancelled due throat problems. Now i have the dilemma,ย do i goย to the Bristol gig tomorrow ? Crap! I cannot remember how long i waited,but, eventually i saw PJ as she was leaving the venue. She didnโ€™t want to talk,but, i asked if tomorrows show in Bristol would go ahead. She said maybe. Well, i had to chance it.

19-12-98 (The gig was rescheduled to this date)

So later than planned, the gig was slotted in at the end of the UK tour. I cannot remember much about it !