Skunk Anansie at Brixton Academy
Skunk Anansie’s lead singer, Skin, was born and raised in Brixton, so it’s fitting that they kick off their first UK show on their Anarchytecture 2017 tour right in her former neighbourhood. Since their beginnings in the mid-90s, the British rock band have sold over 4 million records and released six albums, their most recent being Anarchytecture last year.
First of all, at no point in the night does Skin slow down. Her kinetic energy is immense and she bounds across the stage, crowd surfs multiple times and is indefatigable as she exercises command of the audience. Opening with And Here I Stand and following up with Intellectualise My Blackness, Skunk Anansie get straight into their famed hard-hitting confrontational and overt anthems. These are bolstered by powerful guitar riffs, thick bass rhythms and thundering drums provided by Ace, Cass and the timidly named Mark. At the end of And Here I Stand, Skin breaks into sing-chanting “my nigger rage”, which might sound unnecessarily provocative or indeed forced from any other band, but Skunk Anansie have perfected the art of composing brutally honest and direct socio-political lyrics.
This general sincerity lends itself to their more mellow numbers as well, such as Death to the Lovers, a morose heartbreak song from the rockers’ latest album. For other highly energetic acts, playing their slower tracks can sometimes signal a lull and disengagement from the audience. However, Skin has an impressively wide vocal range that accommodates aggressive screaming but gives space for more emotive falsettos that are entirely captivating even without being belligerent.
And against the current political context, arguably Skunk Anansie may have been reinvigorated by the potential rise of fascism across the Western world. Before launching into God Loves Only You, the singer uses the time to discuss mainstream acceptance of fascist values, the rise of the “alt-right” and gives a heartfelt call for mobilisation against racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.
These Britrock veterans make great use of an impressive visual backdrop and a changing graphic display, and commit to delivering two stunning encores. Despite recording and touring for over 20 years, the frantic energy and raw passion imbued with social and political commentary that made the band so endearing to a 90s audience hasn’t abated in the slightest. Skunk Anansie are still making powerful rock music and don’t look like they will be tiring anytime soon.
Photos: Kimberley Archer
For further information about Skunk Anansie and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Death to the Lovers here: