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Camden 15/12/2010
Islington Academy 7/12/2009
supporting Mr Big at Shepherd's Bush Empire, 12/09/2009

Myke Gray at The Spotted Dog with WORM - 4th August 2001

 

SKIN, Toby Jepson, Matti Alfonzetti - Camden Underworld, 15 December 2010 - review by Andy Nathan (taken from getreadytorock.com)

If 2009 was a triumphant year for the newly reunited Skin, 2010 has seen them consolidate that success with another two tours, an appearance at Download and a fine new album, Breaking the Silence. However all good things must come to an end and this December tour was a farewell to their fans before they return to their established post-musical careers.

A packed Underworld enjoyed the pleasure of two acoustic sets from men with close links to the band's history. Before Skin, guitarist Myke Gray and bassist Andy Robbins (who looks exactly as he used to despite being an accountant - an inspiration to us weekend warriors everywhere!) were in Jagged Edge, who threatened briefly to make it big. Swedish singer Matti Alfonzetti was a Coverdale in the making, but has had a low profile ever since they split up.

The hair is long gone and he now looks more like a student busking in a Stockholm subway, but the rich warm voice remains, and illuminated a number of originals including Blowing up Detroit and Am I Fooling Myself from 2000's excellent Ready album.

However the highlight was Myke and Skin keyboardist Colin MacLeod joining him for the standout cuts from Jagged Edge's Fuel For Your Soul album, You Don't Love Me and Out in the Cold, as he bravely got the crowd singing along. I'd love to see him play somewhere like Firefest with a full electric band.

Back in 1993, a support slot with Little Angels was a major factor in Skin's sudden rise, so it was appropriate that their old singer Toby Jepson was support for the second year running. He turned the Underworld into a mass singalong with the many hits it is easy to forget the Angels had- She's a Little Angel, Kicking up Dust, I aint Gonna Cry and Young Gods.

Nevertheless a couple of songs from his low key solo career, notably Unwound, showed his more mature songwriting talents. Don't Pray for Me, movingly dedicated to late drummer Michael Lee, inspired a particularly lusty singalong while Too Much Too Young closed a set that had flown by. Now he is no longer moonlighting in Gun, how about a reformation of Little Angels or at the very least a new electric band?

Skin opened with a couple of new, and autobiographical, songs in Born to Rock n Roll and Good to be Back - they may be extremely cliched but they were the perfect fist pumping anthems to get a live show off to a flying start, and lost nothing in comparison to old favourites House of Love and the Eastern flavoured Colourblind, much rockier than on their debut album.

Singer Nev MacDonald was under the weather and regularly clearing his throat, yet rather than hold back his powerful, bluesy voice seemed even more untrammelled than ever. The crowd were going crazy, perhaps too much so in the case of a group of men old enough to know better who formed their own moshpit and constantly heckled Nev.

The band played with an intensity that rarely let up and five new songs comfortably nestled in the set - most notably Book of Your life, with Myke Gray's guitar sound pitched somewhere between AC/DC and Big Country and a great closing section as he competed with Dicki Fliszar's powerful drumming, and Redemption, with Nev baring his heart and soul in the manner his Welsh ancestors might have done in a male voice choir.

The Nirvana-esque How Lucky You Are was a rare choice from 2nd album Lucky (while their third album was ignored entirely) while Money and Take me Down to the River were uncompromising slices of primal, bluesy hard rock. Myke's guitar solos were effortlessly fluent but concise, and it was no surprise that the set ended on a high with their most famous song Look but Don't Touch, and Tower of Strength, with a mass singalong.

The encores were fun too, with the punky Perfect Day and their rocked up cover of Unbelievable, with the crowd roaring along to ‘what the f*** was that', before they wound up with another blues-rock classic in Shine Your Light, complete with its Sweet Emotion-esque intro.

Having seen Skin in their various guises since 1992 and fallen in, out and back in love with their music, I cannot recall them sounding sharper or better. It is a shame their reunification was so short but they have certainly fulfilled the old show business adage of leaving the punters wanting more.


Review by Andy Nathan

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Skin London Islington Academy December 7th 2009 - review by Andy Nathan (taken from getreadytorock.com)

The inevitable cycle of bands reforming now seems to have reached those from the mid 1990's (Skunk Anansie, Gun, Terrorvision etc), and no comeback has been more surprising nor as welcome as that of Skin.

Having split up in 1998, and taken jobs in areas as far removed from rock n roll as accountancy, youth work and personal training, this year they were persuaded to reform to play Download, and have now followed a series of acclaimed warm up dates and acoustic support slots with Chickenfoot and Mr Big with a nationwide tour.

It was a support slot with Little Angels that first propelled Skin to prominence in late 1993, so the wheel had come full circle as their former singer Toby Jepson provided the support slot with a set of Angels songs - She's a Little Angel, Kicking up Dust, Don't Prey for Me, I Ain't Gonna Cry, Boneyard, a medley of Young Gods and a cover of Won't Get Fooled Again, and Too Much Too Young. Armed just with a guitar, he bravely got some singalongs going at the front. However some people can make the acoustic format work, but these songs desperately needed a full band to replicate their trademark energy. A Little Angels reunion is what we really want to see!

Skin played for under an hour and a half but not a single moment was wasted on solos and other padding. Guitarist Myke Gray, bassist Andy Robbins and drummer Dicki Fliszar created an aggressive but lean sound that was as taut and muscular as one of Myke's personal fitness clients. Singer Nev MacDonald kept chat to a minimum but, quite apart from his powerful, expressive voice, acted as the genial frontman with his big smile.
The opening few songs were all from their second and third albums: at the time I dismissed them as 'Skin go grunge' but, with the passage of time the likes of the opening trio The Only One, Spit on You and How Lucky You Are now impress for their sheer tightness and the controlled anger housed within them. House of Love got the crowd going before a surprise acoustic interlude in which they previewed two new songs, the autobiographical Reunited and Redemption, with some great laid back bluesy guitar.

However it is the songs form their most popular 1994 debut which will always be at the heart of Skin's set and so it proved with Colourblind and Money, with a great closing solo from Myke. Take Me Down to the River raised the bar even higher before the great singalongs Look but Don't Touch and Tower of Strength, which took on a new dimension as it segued into a powerful version of the Who's 'Tommy' classic Listening to You.

Their rocked up cover of Unbelievable was the first encore, with Toby Jepson joining them on stage, before finishing with Perfect Day and the now rarely played Shine Your Light.

As the Skin reunion rolls on I can wholeheartedly recommend you catch them in 2010.

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Skin supporting Mr Big at Shepherd's Bush Empire, September 12th 2009 - review by Andy Nathan

Skin gigs are like the proverbial London bus - wait 15 years and they all come at once!
Having seen them three times in June- at the 100 club, Download and supporting Chickenfoot - just three months later they were back at the Shepherds Bush Empire, having been added at the 11th hour as support to Mr Big. (see my review at getreadytorock.com)
Skin only had 30 minutes to play a short acoustic set but enjoyed a large crowd, and although tickets were sold out weeks before the gig, many of those who had already bought Mr Big tickets (myself and Joe included) were Skin fans.
In many ways, Skin are well suited to an acoustic format as it is easy to forget, among their usual high intensity performance, just how strong the songs are. It also shows off to the max Neville MacDonald’s raw but soulful voice while Myke Gray appeared relaxed and enjoying himself. The set featured Colourblind, Take me Down to the River, with Nev in superlative vocal form, then the beautiful Tripping and the more rarely heard Which are the tears, with  Colin McCloud’s piano adding a new dimension. Finally, Look but Don’t Touch and Tower of Strength were more widely known and got the crowd singing along.
As well as being a perfect curtain raiser for Mr Big, it was an excellent appetiser to keep us going for the winter tour.  

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Myke Gray at The Spotted Dog with WORM - 4th August 2001

On Saturday 4th August, Myke Gray did his first rock gig since SKIN split up. Well - actually it was just one song but after all this time (and playing with Right Said Fred for so long!) I'm sure it was a moment he - and all of us - had been looking forward too!

OK - so let me set the scene. The Spotted Dog is a pub in Willesden (North London). It doesn't really look like the type of place for a rock gig - and in fact we spent the first hour trying to decide where on earth they could put a band as there was no stage or anything even remotely looking like a band was even playing! The music is - well changeable! In the couple of hours we were there before the band came on, Jules & I heard everything from Robbie Williams to Atomic Kitten to Shania Twain!! Was this really the venue Myke was going to play in?!

Come 11pm all is revealed as the bar-lady asks if "are you going downstairs"? And there, in the corner is a door we haven't noticed before, which leads downstairs into a huge bar and venue! The venue, Sindrome, is actually next to/under the pub!! We're still slightly worried though as we wander into the hall to be confronted by lots of dry ice, flourescent lights and very loud DANCE music!!!!!! Our friend Lizz turns up at about 11.30 so we wander down to the stage as the band, WORM come on.

WORM are a covers band - and a pretty decent one at that! They play a whole mixture of songs - everything from Black Sabbath to Wheatus to Rage Against The Machine. They also did a version of "Should I Stay Or Should I Go"! Strangely enough they did this just after Myke had left the stage!! All in all they kept us all entertained nicely.

So what about Myke? Well we had to wait over an hour and a half before he appeared on-stage with WORM. Finally, at 1.15am he got up - looking the same as ever. The song he did was entitled "You're A Dick". Anyone out there heard the new Right Said Fred single (written by Myke)? OK - Substitute the lyrics with "You're A Dick, A Prick, And I Hate You" in the chorus and you have what we heard last night! Definitely superior to the RSF version (and great for singing about people at work or while you're driving etc. if they piss you off!!!) and very catchy!!! The audience seemed to really get into it too which was great to see.

We had a chat to Myke in the bar afterwards exchanging news & gossip, but by quarter to two the three of us were feeling somewhat sleepy (are we getting old? I'm sure late nights never used to be a problem!!!!) and so we said our good-byes and headed home - I got home at 3am!!

All in all a most enjoyable evening/night/morning (!) out and great to see Myke again after so long. Hopefully it won't be too long before we hear some new stuff from Myke - and hopefully he'll release "You're A Dick" so we can all hear it!!

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