As The Prodigy’s Firestarterblasted from the PA in preparation for the 90s rock onslaught to follow, there was just a moment to reflect that Skunk Anansie have been somewhat overlooked since their commercial peak – so much so that Stormzy erroneously claimed to be the first black British artist to headline the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, only to be politely informed by Skunk Anansie frontwoman Skin that her band got in there first back in 1999.
Skunk Anansie, Academy, Glasgow ****
As she arrived on stage in Glasgow, pimped up with flamboyant frilly gold fins, looking like an amphibian superhero, it was hard to imagine how anyone could overlook this charismatic performer.
Maybe it’s because the band took eight years out in the 2000s, meaning that their current quarter century celebration 25LIVE@25 amounts to 18 years of music.
Or maybe it’s because, as Skin reminded us, the members of Skunk Anansie are the children of immigrants and far from your standard British rock band line-up. In fact, her megawatt presence as a queer, black rock frontwoman has never seemed more vital as she raged through brand new track This Means War, a warning shot before the mighty, testifying of Intellectualise My Blackness and the agit punk-meets-old-school blues rock of Yes It’s F***ing Political.
En route to this ferocious climax, there were molten riffs and soaring vocals to spare, plus the sideshow entertainment of Skin’s frequent forays into the thick of the crowd with no detriment to her potent vocals.
The rock power ballads Charity and Weak and the anthemic Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)allowed her to show off her dynamic range, from vulnerable entreaty to searing scream, which remains the same true force it was twenty years ago.
Having laid waste with the prophetic punk metal escalation of Tear The Place Up, the band returned to showcase streamlined new rocker What You Do For Love.AC/DC’s Highway to Hell was a judicious choice of cover given events of the last few days and the confused and horrified sentiments of their debut single Little Baby Swastikkka still resonated – even as Skin sweetened the pill with her commanding showmanship.
She made it all the way to the back of the hall before being propelled back to the stage on the raised hands of the crowd in a clear demonstration of the positive power of unity and mutual support which Skunk Anansie espouse by their very existence. Fiona Shepherd