Skunk Anansie reminded fans at the O2 Academy that they’ve definitely still got it with a boisterously energetic show, filled with hits from their back catalogue interspersed with new material. The show was part of a jam packed European and UK tour celebrating their 25th anniversary with their newest album 25Live@25, a collection of their greatest hits recorded live on tour. 

The O2 was packed to the rafters with fans new and old eagerly awaiting the main event. Liverpool queer punk band Queen Zee supported, warming the crowd up nicely. With a distinctly 90s feel to the pink lipstick-wearing band member’s sound seamlessly melded glam, punk and pop into a unique act that seemed like an apt choice for Skunk Anansie, a band who’ve always celebrated those who are different from the norm.  

Beginning with a heavy drum and bass intro before the heavy electric guitar sinks in

Opening with Charlie Big Potato, Cass, Mark, Ace and Skin emerged onto stage to roars of approval – Skin donning red latex plastic flower headgear. Beginning with a heavy drum and bass intro before the heavy electric guitar sinks in and Skin starts singing, her signature rasp filling the room. Skin is an iconic frontwoman, her skinhead a stark reminder of her refusal to conform. 25 years on, Skunk Anansie were still throwing themselves around like they were in their early 20s. 

READ MORE >> MUSIC CAN CHANGE THE WORLD: SKUNK ANANSIE ON 25 YEARS OF BREAKING BOUNDARIES

Skin confessed that she had laryngitis after crowd surfing during All in the Name of Pity, though it didn’t seem to be holding her back in any way. Her voice was incredible throughout, from screaming down the microphone to whispering softer harmonies – her range is exceptional. Skin played electric guitar during the band’s rendition of My Ugly Boy, afterwards announcing delightedly ‘This is very nice, isn’t it? Now we’re 25, we can do what we like’.

During an epic rendition of hit Weak, Skin was stood bolt upright on an audience member’s shoulders singing like a cheerleader, before embracing a woman sat on her boyfriend’s shoulders, and throughout the set she was hugging and holding hands with fans. Other treats in the show were hits Hedonism, Intellectualise My Blackness and Yes, it’s Fucking Political, with Skin playing a synthesiser. The décor was simple with just lights and a bare stage, the focus was primarily on the band and the music rather than on backdrops and video walls. 

What do you say when they come for you? You say no

During the set Skin addressed the crowd regarding Brexit: ‘It’s not about left or right, it’s about right or wrong, racism is wrong. ‘What do you say when they come for you? You say no – I dedicate this all to you. Thanks guys for 25 years!’ 

We were also treated to new track This Means War, described by Skin: ‘It has the ability to tear your fucking face off’ and she was right; cider and beer spraying left, right and centre.

the ability to tear your fucking face off

Skunk Anansie tours are rarer now the band are older and their eight year hiatus meant that many fans had been waiting a long time to see them play, but I’m sure all would agree the wait was worth it. You could feel the love in the room, not just from the crowd but from the band themselves.

the love in the room, not just from the crowd but from the band themselves

With two encores, the band were milking every second of the show, with Skin donning her iconic crow feather shoulder pads. We were treated to newest catchy track What You Do for Love, released this July, a cover of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, as well as crowd favourite Little Baby Swastikka. 

The chemistry between the band was evident, they’ve honed their unique sound into something truly special and with rumours of a new album out next year, we leave safe in the knowledge that Skunk Anansie aren’t going anywhere soon.

READ MORE >> GALLERY // SKUNK ANANSIE: LIVE@25 AT O2 ACADEMY BRISTOL

Photos by Dominika Scheibinger

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