It’s been a f’king long time since Skyclad dragged themselves north of Hadrian’s wall to play Edinburgh, so when they announced an appearance at the one and only Bannerman’s Bar to open for Skiltron there was no way we were going to be anywhere else. It’s been a long time since we saw them this far north, but there are still a few hazy memories of (another) drunken night in the Edinburgh Venue back in the early 90s.
Can it really be over a decade since they played up here ?? It’s not THAT far to drive surely !!
Skyclad are one of those bands that seem to have been around for ever, and on the strength of recent major festival performances they’re not planning on going away any time soon, in fact they seem to be on an upward trajectory at the moment. 2014 saw them grace the stage at Hellfest Open Air in France and our own Bloodstock Festival where they showed the young ‘uns how it’s done.
It’s a typically busy Saturday night Bannerman’s crowd with the buzz building as we get ready for the off. As mentioned before Bannermas is a fantastic little venue, and it always manages to punch above it’s weight in terms of some of the bands that it manages to attract. After playing the Hellfest and Bloodstock it is slightly strange to see Skyclad pushing through the crowd to get to the diminutive stage, this is what you call up close and personal.
No big theatrical entrance here.
In fact, the entrance is even less big and theatrical than usual, although we’ll not name names as to who forgot the CD with the intro music. Still, as a way to kick off a show “OK here we go..” has a certain elegant simplicity about it and in the packed confines of Bannermans it was like lighting the blue touch paper on an already excited, and probably fairly drunk, crowd.
Before the gig we hadn’t managed to pin down the last time Skyclad had been up here, but that’s OK as neither could they as Kevin couldn’t remember either. Luckily the Bannermans hive mind knows all 😉
By the time we’re three songs in the place is bouncing and the sweat is starting to drip off the low vaulted roof. Anyone who’s seen Skyclad live knows that they never let up, and even when crammed onto a small stage there’s still constant movement on stage, although Georgina and the guitarists have to be careful not to have someone’s eye out in passing. Things wind up a notch with a Skyclad “anthem” in the form of Another Fine Mess as the years are rolled back.
And there’s a special guest on stage too. For this show the band are re-joined by former member Dave Pugh who is definitely much more “metal” than “folk”. In Dave and Steve Ramsay Skyclad have a scorching old school metal twin guitar sound certain to have “real” folkies heading for the hills with fingers in both ears.
It was all going so well until Georgina put her fiddle down and switched to the keyboard for what were described as “some hi tech songs”. Alas the keyboard wasn’t playing along or, indeed, playing at all. Poor Georgina, all eyes on her as she tries to vanquish the gremlins while Kevin offers helpful advice along the lines of “Technology eh ? As soon as you put technology into anything, its fucked”.
The reluctant technology is finally threatened, bullied and cajoled into place and things thunder on with more of the band’s anthems and other greatest hits before the unthinkable happens happens…
The worst thing you can imagine…
No, worse than that…
Kevin says “It’s nice to play in England”.
Well that’s one way to silence a Scottish crowd but the Geordies and the Scots have a lot in common, so luckily we let him off. Anyway it could have been worse, he could have said “Good evening Glasgow” like he apparently did when the band played the Venue.
Bannermans seems to specialise massive sing-along party atmosphere bands, and Skyclad certainly fall into that category. The Wickedest Man In The World is one of the highlights of the evening, but it’s eclipsed by an awesome blast through Parliament Of Fools, how prophetic was that song, which succeeds in getting a good part of the crowd bouncing, dancing and generally getting right into the Skyclad spirit.
Of course there is one Skyclad song that everyone seems to know, “This song involves some audience participation. Anyone got a drink handy?”
Well THAT’S a silly question and the audience do indeed participate for Another drinking song, especially the very loud, quite drunk and absolutely enjoying every second fans who’d followed the band north of the wall. The set draws to a close with what they modestly call “A good song to sing along with”, Inequality Street and a good song to jump about to, Thinking Allowed and that’s it, we’re out of time.
Actually, not quite as there’s no way they’re going to be let off that easily and the shouts of “One More Song” are met with a spot of Thin Lizzy to make sure that everyone leaves with a smile on their face.
I just wish I’d taken my bloody camera with me, although this was supposed to be a night off though 😉