SKINNY Lister are about as far removed from the traditional image of a folk band as you could find, and, for that matter, from the Mumford and Sons folk-lite so loved by the scenesters who have latched onto it as the latest music trend.
Formed in Greenwich, London, six years ago, they have built a steadily growing following who’ve fallen for their brand of raucous goodtime music, which is perhaps best compared to The Pogues.
This date was the fourth of a UK tour promoting their new album Down On Deptford Broadway, and it saw the six-piece on excellent form.
They started with Raise A Wreck and George’s Glass, two songs from the just-released new record, and while I’ve seen gigs fall a little flat when bands play new material first, here they had the packed crowd hooked from the off, as most people seemed to know them already.
They’re a hard band to dislike, with five members lined up across the front of the tiny stage, and their most recent recruit, drummer Thom Mills, pounding out a propulsive beat at the back.
All the ‘stage front’ members contribute vocals, but its leaders are guitarist Dan Heptinstall (also the main songwriter), and Lorna Thomas, the flirty singer whose boundless energy is infectious.
In her flowery dress and trademark red shoes, she’s a compelling presence, whether she’s singing a gentle love song, bellowing out a lusty sea shanty, passing round a flagon of rum, dancing in the crowd or smooching strangers on the balcony. Oh, and she’s got a great voice.
One singalong anthem followed the last, with new numbers greeted just as warmly as old favourites from 2012’s debut album Forge & Flagon, with the pace occasionally slowed by gentler songs like Colours.
It was the up-tempo tunes which really got the place moving, however, and the likes of If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down, Trawlerman, This Is War, Forty Pound Wedding and Rollin’ Over would have made a dead man dance.
The high spots were many, but for crowd involvement you couldn’t beat the rousing singalong prompted by their version of trad. tune John Kanaka, or recent single Trouble On Oxford Street.
I guarantee that if you go to a Skinny Lister show, even if you don’t know a single song, by the time you leave they’ll be your favourite new band.