Lucas Mannion reviews Skunk Anansie's electrifying performance at Nottingham's Rock City.
When I walked into Rock City to see the legendary Skunk Anansie, I was worried I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I was the youngest in the crowd by a long way; the band are currently on their delayed 25th Anniversary Tour, and there were people there who had clearly followed their whole 28-year career. And then there was me: 21 years old, introduced to the band last year, only knowing a handful of songs.
Any apprehension I had was drowned out by the screams of adulation that broke out the second frontwoman Skin stepped on stage. She was oozing with confidence, dressed head to toe in black and sporting a 2ft spiked headdress. With wild eyes and a wide grin, Skin bounced around the stage with the energy of someone who was born to perform. It was hard to tell what she was going to do next - within the first few songs a theremin (a bizarre instrument used in the Doctor Who theme tune) was brought out, which Skin played with exact precision. With antics like this, at times her performance was almost theatrical.
With a Black, queer woman as a vocalist, it is no surprise that politics is a focus of Skunk Anansie’s material. In front of a captive audience, the frontwoman weaved discussions of societal injustices between each song. She touched on various topics, from anti-vaxxers to the war in Ukraine. In relation to the latter, Skin openly denounced Boris Johnson, calling him hypocritical for welcoming Ukrainian refugees when he had previously spouted anti-immigrant rhetoric about thousands of people seeking sanctuary in the UK. She concluded this short speech by shouting “F**k Boris Johnson!” – based on the echoes of this cry, it was a sentiment shared by everyone in the crowd.
''The combination of the thundering drums and Skin’s effortlessly powerful vocals absorbed me''
Though I regrettably don’t know the names of any of the songs, I enjoyed everything I heard over the course of the night. The combination of the thundering drums and Skin’s effortlessly powerful vocals absorbed me. It’s easy to tell just how much every member of the band loves what they do. I could feel the vibrations pulsing through the floor up inside my ribcage, like a heartbeat.
At the start of the night, I was expecting to feel out of place. I needn’t have worried - the older folks around us seemed delighted to see me and my friend (who had been raised on Skunk Anansie) at the show. We jumped and screamed in unison and watched in awe as an enormous mosh pit opened during the encore. I left that venue feeling like I was part of a community – it was a fantastic night that I won’t soon forget.
Edited by: Amrit Virdi