words and pictures by Peter Nicholson.
This was my first visit to The Old Fire Station in Bournemouth. I was there to see a band that I photographed at Wickham Festival back in the summer. That was an extremely hot weekend, a contrast to winter coats that were the order of the day now! I was eager to see Skinny Lister again as the energy they put into their summer performance was electric!
The Old Fire Station is an impressive venue with a great layout for live music, so I was hopeful of a good show.
There were two openers, the first being Tom Jenkins; quite a contrast to the main act with his laid back, singer songwriter vibe. He was playing, rather surprisingly, a Gibson SG electric guitar (an iconic shape usually associated with the likes of Angus Young from AC/DC!). Despite a seemingly hesitant start, and a quiet, early evening room, Tom soon came into his own and he began to talk about his songs and connect with the audience. They soon began to warm to his heartfelt lyrics and interesting melodies. I couldn’t help but think that I’d have liked to hear the songs with an acoustic guitar rather than the extremely bass heavy Gibson. Maybe it was just the sound in the room that made it seem like there was a bit too much bass.
Next on the bill were Deux Furieuses. The modest entrance disguised some real energy and passion. This was their first support slot for Skinny Lister and it was obviously something they’d be looking forward to. They were well-rehearsed, tight, skilled musicians. With only a drum kit and a Fender Telecaster, the two women filled the room! Ros’ lead vocal and lead guitar perfectly backed up by Vas’ backing vocals and her driving drums. The drum grooves were amazing, great use of the toms to compensate for the lack of bass guitar. I loved it! Punk, post-punk, rock, protest singers – however you want to describe them, I thought they were great! The only downside was the sound in the venue which had so much bottom end (again) that some of the lyrics and Ros’ obviously great voice were lost in the bass. It was the only downside of a brilliant set. By the end of their slot, Deux Furieuses had the venue jumping! A great band and I’m genuinely looking forward to catching them again. This really is a band to see live if you get the chance.
Then the main act of the night. Skinny Lister. A band that are right up there on my list of artists I love to photograph. With some bands, I know what shots I’ll probably end up with before they even take to the stage. With Skinny Lister, the energy of the band, and the fun on stage, makes every show a joy as well as a challenge, for photographers. I really enjoyed this set as I knew I would!! Starting with their usual boundless energy, the band immediately brought the audience to life.
The day before the gig was Daniel Heptinstall’s (lead vocal and guitar) birthday and, when Lorna (vocals) mentioned this, there was a lovely moment when the audience started to sing the inevitable “Happy Birthday”, which Daniel laughed off and jumped straight into the next song. Max Thomas is often the star on stage, leading the cheers and encouraging the crowd to be the extra band member. His musicianship is undeniable. He makes the accordion and the mandolin look easy to play, which, of course, they aren’t, especially when bounding across a stage!
It’s said that you can rate a team (or a band) by their weakest link, Skinny Lister don’t have one. Every band member knows their role and executes it superbly. Whether that’s the showmanship at the front of the stage, or the superb rhythm section, everything just works.
In a nutshell: This band should be on your list of artists to see live!
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