SKIN+ Make Good Your Escape. Zodiac, Oxford. 05.12.05

Hold on a second this was supposed to be a quiet show. The story goes that after Skunk Anansie quit being fucking political Skin’s solo career consisted of quietly anthemic, weakly industrial pop pap, built to show off her admittedly amazing voice but little else.

So it’s a shock when handpicked support band Make Good Your Escape are really loud. Not aggressive or confrontational with their volume but huge-sounding like Aereogramme or Muse.
Songs like ‘Real’ drip with atmosphere and feeling before growing out of control and vibrating eyeballs around the room, most of the people here should be running for the door, or the bar at least, but the masochists lap it up. Everybody is converted by the second song, cheering and applauding MGYE’s every move.

So when they leave, you can’t help feeling sorry for Skin, the girl who used to deal in nothing but confrontation before she lost her way. But then she arrives, looking like the punkest punk chick ever, jumping to touch the ceiling, hurling mic stands around and goading the front rows, daring people to pity her.

And then she sings ‘Hedonism’ and ‘Charlie Pig Potato’ and ‘Weak’ and then Skin; the name of the famous lady and her anonymous band, play some new material and unbelievably it’s just as good. And everybody is singing along except the people that are crying and the goosebumps get huge. And this was supposed to be a quiet show.

Playing the Skunk songs that everybody here obviously loves so much would be incredibly dangerous if the new stuff didn’t rock.

It is those old songs that are most instantly recognised and receive the biggest reaction but elsewhere, apart from a couple of perfectly measured semi-acoustic tunes, there’s a funky bounce and a hard bite throughout.

It seems Skin has rediscovered some of the bile and spite that made her previous band so essential but has lost none of the haunting, angelic perfection from her voice. Even songs that used to splutter and misfire like ‘Trashed’ have been converted into stirring, emotional rock tracks.

The best bit is the look on the lady’s face though, converted from unbridled aggressor through mock shyness to the confident and happy performer taking the Zodiac stage tonight. Never without a cheeky smile or mile wide grin and looking like she’s having the time of her life. A feeling reflected to the bar and back.

And no pop pap in sight.

also appears at new-noise

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