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Brixton Academy, London 26 November 2009

Marie Mungo and Midge, Dennis and Gnasher, Crystal Tipps and Alistair, Roobard and Custard, Dastardly and Mutley, my childhood was overrun with bizarre cartoon partnerships.

So, when I first heard about Skunk and Nancy, my immediate reaction was, cool...Pepe le Pew finally got a girlfriend. Then I saw the exemplary cyberpunk movie 'Strange Days', with cyberskunk 'Selling Jesus' prominently featured and reality bit.

Pepe was still a hopelessly single malodorous romantic and what we had was a deeper, darker and certainly sweeter smelling proposition. Here was a band with a sound and a soul that was all its own, with a name inspired by the dark West African folk tales of Anansi the spiderman (I'd love Sam Raimi to turn that into a movie) and the voice of a renegade angel who had long since abandoned her birth name of Deborah, for something decidedly unangelic.

Having last seen the band almost 10 years ago, I was hoping that the power and passion that I witnessed back then hadn't been diluted with the passing of time and solo endeavours.

Then, boom, came the reply, as the opening salvo of the debut album hit the crowd as a lightning ball of kinetic energy hit the stage. Covered from shaved head to manicured toe in shimmering ball of metallic fronds, although she was at first skinvisible, there was no doubt what lurked beneath when that voice erupted as the oversized pom-pom darted across the stage.

Celebrating their long overdue comeback with a 'Best of' album and set-list, all bases were covered from the heartfelt-balladry of 'Brazen (Weep)' to perfect power pop of 'Twisted (Everyday Hurts)' the manic punkdom of 'On my hotel TV'.

As they careered towards an appropriate set-closing 'Tear the place up', it was clear that this wasn't simply the Skin in Bacofoil show, this was a true band performance, with Cass Lewis' bass in particular impressing in both sheer volume and raw groove.

Indeed, it was the men at the back that propelled the show's intensity as Skin communed with the adoring crowd, at one point walking off the stage, carried on unflinching shoulders without missing a note.

Returning for an extended series of encores, the band were clearly psyched by the rapturous homecoming reception at what was the final date of their European tour.

Even more encouraging was their confidence to include 4 new tracks in the set-list, 3 of which feature on the Greatest Hits compo and all of which fitted seamlessly into their already impressive songbook.

Here's hoping for a full album of new material before long. Compared to the manufactured pap of Cowell's clowns, this was the real deal; music with meaning delivered with power and passion, led by a decidedly hairless angel with genuine XX and XY factor to match.

Set list Intro (Yes, It's F*cking Political) / Selling Jesus / Charlie Big Potato / Because of You / Charity / 100 Ways to Be a Good Girl / I Can Dream / I Don't Want To Kill You / Weak / Brazen (Weep) / Twisted (Everyday Hurts) / Cheap Honesty / On My Hotel TV / Tear The Place Up / The Skank Heads / ENCORES: Hedonism / Squander / Little Baby Swastikkka / Secretly

Review by Andy Rawll


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