Live Review: Skunk Anansie – Birmingham

Live Review: Skunk Anansie - O2 Academy, Birmingham
22nd April 2022
Support: Gen and the Degenerates, Holocene
Words & Photos: Tim Finch

It’s been too long since Skin and her band mates in Skunk Anansie have graced the stages of the U.K. However this April they make amends with a tour that has seemed to last the full month covering every concert venue in every city you can think of. Towards the tail end of the tour they roll into a wind swept Birmingham, on a Friday night too which always makes for a good time.

Opening the tour are Holocene a pairing bred from the grunge scene and hailing out of London. The duo of Sian Kelly (guitar) and her drummer (sorry I can’t find his name anywhere) have a unique sound, dripping in bluesy influence with hints of jazz and lashing of grunge thrown in. Sian’s beautifully husky voice perfectly accompanies their dark bluesy tone as the drums throb along behind her.

A set of the bands own music swirls in the air, drawing the early attendees in. There is no pace, it’s dark, slow and foreboding but every bit as enthralling as a band at breakneck speed would be. A unique take on Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ perfectly tops off their set. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from this due in the coming years and months.

This evening has a focus on bands featuring women with incredibly powerful voices and following on from Sian we have Gen, vocalist with Gen and the Degenerates. The band meld stylings of rock and punk they are the next big British band being pushed by the illustrious Marshall Records.


From the shadows at the back of the stage appears Gen, a skin head sporting a black and white chequered faux fur coat. She is the ultimate talisman for the band, holding the wowed audience in the palm of her hand all evening. As the sweltering heat in the venue mixed with the glare of the spot lights forces Gen to drop her coat, she continues to prowl the stage, her vocals gripping the crowd and twisting their balls (for those in attendance who have them). This is a high energy performance which packs a punch and I can’t wait to see what the band have in store next.

The quality of music on offer already this evening is phenomenal and Skunk Anansie have yet to take to the stage. But when they do, they do so with a bang! Skin wearing a spiked/horned head dress towers over the audience, a menacing figure and the heavy stomp of ‘Yes It’s Fucking Political’ rings out, much more dark in tone in the live arena than on record and very on point given the current climate.

As the set progresses and the head dress is lost, the band pick up the pace. ‘Twisted (Everyday Hurts)’ the classic 90’s indie rock tune features early in the set and gets the packed floor of the Academy bouncing like its 1996 all over again.

The sheer power of Skin’s voice is evident throughout this set – she stands along side Lzzy Hale as having one of the most powerful voices in rock – and the set is tailored to that ferocity. Despite being at the tail end of a thirty eight date run, Skin rules the roost through a set of the bands greatest hits celebrating 25 years (and then some – thanks COVID) of the band.

A surprise, to me at least, is seeing ‘Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)’ mid set, whilst the encore is reserved for ‘Piggy’, a cover of ‘Highway To Hell’, ‘Brazen (Weep)’ and ‘Little Baby Swastikka’.

A fantastic evening by a fantastic band celebrating more than a quarter of a century of producing top class rock tunes.

Photo credits: Tim Finch Photography

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