Skinny Lister at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea REVIEW: 'Impressive energy levels from the stage are returned with interest'

‘We know it’s midweek, but the weekend starts here’, frontman Dan Heptinstall states near the start of their set.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 11:01 am
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 11:12 am
Skinny Lister at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, on December 4, 2019. Picture by Paul Windsor

And it’s a rallying call the near-to-capacity crowd takes to heart.

The impressive energy levels from the stage are returned to the six-piece folk-punk band with interest.

Co-lead singer Lorna Thomas apologises early on for her extended absences from the stage, and that she won’t be crowdsurfing tonight.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Skinny Lister at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, on December 4, 2019. Picture by Paul Windsor

Given that she’s obviously heavily pregnant, it’s forgiven.

However, when Thomas leaves the stage, she is missed. It’s not that the boys can’t cope without her – but her presence does bring something extra to proceedings.

With their songs designed for mass singalongs, melodeon player Max Thomas (Lorna’s brother) is a vociferous cheerleader for audience participation.

The a cappella sea shanty, John Kanaka, accompanied only by Thom Mills’ drums, is a set highlight – it’s sung along to with enormous spirit by the crowd, if not necessarily a huge amount of tunefulness.

Skinny Lister at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, on December 4, 2019. Picture by Paul Windsor

It’s a raucous affair all-round, but don’t think that the band are sloppy – far from it. How often do you get to see a double bass played above the musician’s head, as Scott Milsom manages to here?

Drink is never far away either, as evidenced in songs like Six Whiskies, Hamburg Drunk and George’s Glass, which features a key component of any Skinny Lister show – the passing around the audience of a flagon until it’s drunk dry.

It’s not all full-throttle, though. In Diesel Vehicle they manage to turn putting unleaded into a diesel van into something approaching a touching ballad.

And they can still lean on their roots too – Bonny Away wouldn’t sound out of place in a folk club.

New single Second Amendment touches on a bit of politics – how can a 230-year-old piece of legislation still be relevant when so much has changed around it?

Main set closer Trouble on Oxford Street highlights their literal fighting spirit.

Four albums and a decade in, amazingly this is the first time the London-based act have played Portsmouth. And it’s not because they couldn’t – they’ve played similar size venues along the coast, but somehow always missed here.

As they note from the response tonight though, it’s been an oversight, and they’ll be back as soon as possible.

We’ll be waiting.