Skinny Lister – Live at Cambridge Folk Festival, Friday 31st July 2015

You had me at The Pogues! Our intrepid live folk lover picks up the pen to report back on six piece group Skinny Lister’s performance at the Cambridge Folk Festival.

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“…….the world through the bottom of George’s glass”

Skinny Lister are that rare treat, a band you can see live repeatedly without tiring of them. This is true not least because they never seem to tire of seeing you. Whether feeding you rum from a giant flagon, or crowd surfing while playing the double bass, the Skinnies are here to entertain you.

“You must go and see them!” I tell Tony, my camping Neighbour at Cambridge Folk Festival. When he asks what they are like I hesitate, “think of The Pogues, but replace Shane McGowan with a pretty girl in a Laura Ashley dress.” Perhaps this is not entirely accurate but the comparisons are there to be made. Both bands are able to mix the undeniably raucous whilst being genuinely sensitive and lyrical. The band effortlessly shift between the machine gun delivery of Trouble on Oxford Street and the lilting Colours, a personal favourite of mine.

This contrast is best illustrated by Lorna (she of the flowery dress). When not belting out John Kanaka along with the others, she is variously dancing manically, crowd surfing – this time after borrowing Michael Camino’s double bass and flirting shamelessly with the crowd. “You look shocked” she says to a bemused folky, before promising him a change of tempo so that he’ll realise that “I’m a nice person really” a hush descends as she sings the gentle Bonny Away.

Perhaps this is their secret. They may look absolutely mad, “He’s going to have a bloody heart attack” somebody says of the free stomping Max, but there is none of the snarling disaffection of The Pogues. Sam “Mule” Brace may look like he could give you a hefty kick, but these people are your drunk best friends. That is you are lucky to have a group of brilliant folk musicians as your best friends and only then if they don’t mind you coming round all the time, drinking their rum and begging “Play Trawlerman again”

Review and live photos by Dominic Gillespie.


Skinny Lister
are still to be found at a live venue near you, whether that’s France, Germany, Reading/Leeds or a longer traipse around the US, all details to be found on their website.

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