Skunk Anansie seemed genuinely delighted to be home as they wowed Brixton’s Academy to end their European tour.
Lead singer Skin appeared in fishnets and feathers, her trademark shaved scalp replaced by a Grace Jones-esque Mohican/ quiff. The jacket was soon gone, leaving her resplendent in hot pants and sheer stocking top, bouncing round the stage like there was no tomorrow.
But the looks didn’t distract from the powerful performances, with a setlist blending old and new tracks. The newer, heavier material still has the same kick as the old favourites, but the vocals have a little more beauty than previously, showcasing a voice that seems to have grown into itself – more powerful, more melodic, and ever so sexy – as the singer matures. Considering the previous high standards of Skin’s work the new heights she reaches are impressive.
Kicking off with The Skank Heads, the band soon moved onto material from Black Traffic and 2010’s Wonderlustre. Getting into the swing of things, the crowd was jumping for Twisted (Everyday Hurts), and rose up at the merest incitement.
Skin has lost none of her fire, and security probably won’t have been best pleased with her for her several crowd surfing moments. This was compounded when she told everyone on the balcony to stand for Weak (followed by an apology to her dad for swearing so much “but, Fuck it!”), before deciding to walk across the outstretched hands of the crowd.
Things calmed down for Hedonism, beautiful in all its heartfelt poignancy, carried off perfectly; although the crowd verged on disinterest when this was followed by a duet of Our Summer Kills the Sun.
The encore was very much a slow, fast, slow affair, with the riot-rock of Tear the Place Up giving way to the longing of Secretly, before a truly epic finale with Little Baby Swastikkka. After telling the crowd to do “exactly as I say”, Skin jumped the barriers and exhorted everyone to sit down in an ever expanding circle, until the entire venue was at least on its knees. There they remained for the entire verse, before jumping up for the chorus, in a ritual that was repeated throughout the song. As the bridge played, she climbed onto the sound desk, posing for photos before being triumphantly floated on a sea of hands back to the stage; in an act that sums up the energy and enthusiasm of the entire gig.