Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Skids - Part 3: Rock Photographer Paul Slattery & Richard Jobson Re-Trace Their Dunfermline Steps 38 Years Later...


Richard Jobson at Fire Station Arts Creative, Dunfermline photographed by Paul Slattery
Rock Photographer Paul Slattery was so blown away by seeing The Skids in Southampton during their 40th Anniversary Tour that he trekked up to Dunfermline to catch the last night of the tour in their home-town. While he was there he met up with Richard Jobson to visit the "Scared To Dance" exhibition (which includes some of Paul's excellent early Skids prints) and to re-trace their steps some 38 years on from his first Scottish photo-session with the band. Over to you Paul: "On a warm night in April 1978 I went to see The Skids for the second time at The Red Cow in Hammersmith. Just a week before I’d been impressed with this band at the nearby Nashville and on this particularly hot night The Skids, stripped to the waist, gave it everything a band possibly could. The guitarist was an ace and the front-man threw himself around like no-one I’d seen before. I liked them a lot and a year later, just soon after they signed to Virgin Records, I photographed them in Dunfermline and in North Queensferry by the Forth Bridge. One of the photographs was used on the front cover of Sounds magazine in March 1979 with "Skid Row" on the cover. 

The Skids, Glen Pavilion Dunfermline photographed by Paul Slattery
Just thirty eight years later here I am down the front of a Skids gig again in Dunfermline! I’d finally seen the reformed band in Southampton (photos on the Blog here) the previous week and was so blown away that I decided to come up to Dunfermline and see their home-town gig. It was like the wheel had turned full circle. During the afternoon walking through the town I spotted many Skids fans who were not only from all over the country but all over Europe as well. They have an unbelievably dedicated fan-base and they paid back that dedication in spades by paying a truly stupendous gig at the Glen Pavilion here. The musicianship, the charisma, the passion and the energy is all there, The Skids have so many great songs to choose from and the set list just a dream. Read Steve’s report in the blog from the Roundhouse gig here and you’ll get the picture. 

Richard Jobson, Glen Pavilion Dunfermline photographed by Paul Slattery
This was a great night to remember and a truly remarkable performance from a band who had only recently got back together.
 The next morning I met Richard Robson at The Fire Station Creative where I had Skids photographs on display in the "Scared To Dance" exhibition curated by himself and Ronnie Gurr. We chatted over a coffee in between Richard signing things for fans and went for a walk round the town retracing the steps I had taken with the Skids back in 1979. There were still loads of Skids fans in town and Richard spent a good part of our walk chatting to them and doing more signing. The landmarks were still there but of course health and safety prevented us from climbing into the Abbey as the band had done 38 years before! 

Richard Jobson photographed in Dunfermline, 2017 by Paul Slattery
The Skids photographed in Dunfermline, 1979 by Paul Slattery
Richard Jobson photographed in Dunfermline, 2017 by Paul Slattery
The Skids photographed in Dunfermline, 1979 by Paul Slattery
There’s a huge buzz about the band at the moment, they will be playing more gigs this year and have already pencilled in dates for next year. Go and see them! Here are some of the new and old photos together, all the old ones can be found in my new book "Scared To Dance – The Skids 1979/80" published by Hanging Around books and available to buy from here."

The Skids, Glen Pavilion Dunfermline photographed by Paul Slattery
The Crowd at Glen Pavilion Dunfermline photographed by Paul Slattery
Paul talks more about his experiences with The Skids and picks a couple of his favourite tracks in our brand new Episode 27 of Retrosonic Podcast, you can listen/download for free below:



Saturday, 15 July 2017

French Boutik - Water Rats London July 14th, Bastille Day with the Paris based Pop-Modernisters

French Boutik - Photo ©Retromanblog 2017
The wonderful Paris-based Modernist Pop band French Boutik headlined a most enjoyable evening put on by SBD Promotions at the Water Rats in Kings Cross last night. It was fitting to help them celebrate Bastille Day and they put on a superb show which proved that the band are on top form right now. Indeed with each release and each gig that I see the band just seem to get better and better. The release of their long-awaited debut album "Front Pop", the new "Essential" compilation on Detour Records and their regular trips over here have rightly earned them a growing army of admirers on this side of the channel, I remember they went down a storm at our first Retro Man Blog Night of 2016 supporting The Senior Service. Tonight's excellent set is packed full of their super-cool sounds that merge together classic Sixties Soul and the cinematic influences of film-noir and spy movie soundtracks and mix them all up with French Ye-Ye, Mod and a nice edge of New Wave.

French Boutik - Photo ©Retromanblog 2017
French Boutik - Photo ©Retromanblog 2017
The current line-up, tonight expanded to a six-piece, is also superb and there is a great chemistry between all the band-members that lifts everyone in the room and creates a really warm and enjoyable atmosphere. Vocalist Gabriela is a charismatic focal point and she has a fine soulful voice that really comes into it's own on stage. Guitarist Serge is French cool personified and his impressive Rickenbacker work adds a nice edge to the sound. He takes over lead vocals on a couple of tracks including the stand-out "Mieux Comme Ca" backed by Gabriela and the quite wonderful vocal melodies of drummer Zelda. Bassist Jean-Marc in his sharp suit also spins out some impressive riffs on his Rickenbacker and at one point keyboard player Olivier Popincourt stops to admire his colleague. Olivier adds some excellent Hammond organ to proceedings and as I have done on the Blog before, I must recommend you check out his own album "A New Dimension To Modern Love".

French Boutik - Photo ©Retromanblog 2017
French Boutik - Photo ©Retromanblog 2017
Added to this is Graham Lentz on percussion and acoustic guitar who seems to be having the time of his life at the back. I'm sure he'd be in the crowd down the front of the stage if he wasn't in the band! They played a great selection of songs including some personal highlights such as "Je Regarde Les Tigres" and "La Vie en Colouers" and encored with my favourite track "Les Chats de Gouttière". They will now head off to Manchester and Shrewsbury, where they will play with The Backbeat Three on Sunday July 16th and they also have a gig at Les Disquaires in Paris with The Sha La-La's on September 02nd. For more information on their tour dates and how to order "Front Pop" please check out their web-site here. We've played lots of French Boutik in various episodes of Retrosonic Podcast too which you can search in the archive here. Here's a video of one of my favourite tracks from the new album entitled "Le Casse" filmed at the show.



You can also see more photos of the gig over at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here.

French Boutik - Photo ©Retromanblog 2017

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Oh! Gunquit - Photos from Weirdsville June 24th 2017

Tina from Oh! Gunquit - Photo ©Retromanblog 2017
Oh! Gunquit headlined another great night at Weirdsville on Saturday June 24th hot on the heels of the release of their stunning second album "Lightning Likes Me". It was the first time I've seen them since saxophonist Chuchi joined the line-up and he added even more dynamism and character to a band already bursting at the seams with all these qualities. During "Caves" Tina crawled off the stage and through the crowd's legs and during the encore she treated us to her trademark of hula-hooping while playing the trumpet. It was a great set packed full of songs from both albums but it's the new numbers that made their mark tonight, with tracks like "Fireballs", "Suzy Don't Stop" and the Punky thrash of "Captain of The Creeps" really standing out. As on the new album "Greasy Moves" was a nicely sleazy delight and you realise the band are full of surprises, energy, fun and colour but most importantly they now have a set bursting with fantastic songs. If you get chance please get out and see the band play, you certainly won't regret it! I featured the album on the Blog a couple of weeks ago here and you can see the review and a video of "Nomads of The Lost" here.





 





Oh! Gunquit at Weirdsville - All Photos ©Retromanblog 2017
For more photos of the gig please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here.

Monday, 3 July 2017

The Magical World of Papa-san & Friends, The Songs of Michael Head in Japan + Desolation Row Music Bar

Papa-san & Friends "The Kitchen Sessions CD"
Japan is the land of the "otaku", which some people might disparagingly translate as "anorak" or "nerd" but I like to think of it as a knowledgeable and slightly obsessive fan. So, whatever your "thing" is it's thanks to these otaku people that I’m pretty damn sure you’ll find a bar, restaurant, club or store and an enthusiastic owner celebrating it somewhere in Japan. For example, I’ve been to Gothic bars decorated with cobwebs, coffins and plastic bats and a Punk bar covered in vintage posters and memorabilia. We discovered a Mod & Skinhead store with West Ham scarves hanging from the ceiling and I've seen bands play in a Garage Rock venue that was the dead-ringer for London’s Weirdsville. We've stumbled across a tiny Yakitori bar called Ramone and on entrance were confronted by a small counter and walls covered in posters of Ramones, The Who and the Sex Pistols and yes we've even found a bar in a quiet residential suburb of Tokyo dedicated to that very English genius songwriter Michael Head, yes he of Shack, The Pale Fountains and The Strands.

Papa-san & Friends
The bar is intriguingly named "Sheep's Horns and Dragon's Whiskers" (Hitsuji no Tsuno to Ryū No Hige) and it's located in a unassuming back-street not far from Nishi-Magome station in Tokyo. From this bar operates a collective of musicians known as Papa-san & Friends formed initially by DJ and musician Hiro Monstera. Hiro surely must be Mick Head's biggest fan, he first saw The Pale Fountains on their Japanese tour back in the mid-80's and a few years ago enlisted the bar's owner Papa-san and a collection of regulars and friends to start a band with the intention of playing cover versions of songs from throughout Mick's career. However, they are certainly not your average tribute band as the songs are performed on acoustic guitars, ukulele, cajón and concertina. I'd been in touch with Hiro after he saw some of my recent features on Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band gigs and as we were in Tokyo he invited us along to see the band play. On arrival we are greeted by professional looking personalised gig posters that proclaim "Welcome!" The bar’s owner Papa-san is cool in his shades puffing away on a cigarette and later on as he gets surrounded by the girls for a photo opportunity he suddenly reminds me of Tokyo's answer to Serge Gainsbourg.

Papa-san ©Retro Man Blog
Papa-san & Friends ©Retro Man Blog
Inside the small unassuming bar is a large communal table and counter and around the walls are hung an impressive collection of Michael Head posters and memorabilia, some of which are rare and many designed by Pascal Blua, who’s excellent work you can see on Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band’s recent releases and posters. I notice that lots of the items have been personally signed by Mick Head too and Hiro is rightly proud as he shows us his collection. On one side of the bar, there's a record and CD player, a rack of CD's and vinyl and there's a very cool Violette Records bag and once we’ve checked all the memorabilia we are invited to sit at the large communal table. We enjoy a great meal cooked by Papa-san and loads of delicious ice cold Japanese beers, followed by sparkling wine which is in turn followed by some fine sake.

Papa-san & Friends Yoshito, Rie & Hiro - Photo ©Retro Man Blog
Personalised Gig Poster outside the Bar
We chat and make friends with some other locals before the music starts. Hiro sings lead vocals on most of the songs and has a very cool looking ukulele. Rie expertly coaxes melodies from her concertina and adds some beautiful harmonies and backing vocals and Yoshito sits on a box like cajón, a Peruvian percussion instrument which he plays wonderfully. We each have a go on the cajón and it’s certainly a lot more difficult to master than it first looks. They proceed to lead us through a superb set of Mick Head songs including The Pale Fountain's "Thank You" and "Jean's Not Happening" with the occasional track by U2, The Smiths and Fairground Attraction thrown in along the way. Papa-san joins in on acoustic guitar for his favourite track Shack’s “Comedy” and then sings two excellent Japanese Blues songs, one of which he is hoping to release as a single.

Some music to go with your beer..?
Hiro & Rie of Papa-san & Friends - Photo ©Retro Man Blog
My friend Kurt, Tokyo resident, musician and Tokyo BGM Blog editor gets persuaded to serenade us with some songs including The Cure’s “In Between Days” and The Replacements "If Only You Were Lonely", everyone joins in and sings along. Kurt and I muddle our way through R.E.M.'s "Driver 8" as best we can but quickly hand back to the experts and enjoy a final singalong before we reluctantly have to leave to catch the last train. We had a thoroughly magical evening with Hiro, Papa-san & Friends, something we will never forget and if you are ever in Tokyo and fancy a great night of music, chat, food and beers then please head along to "The Sheep's Horns & The Dragon's Whiskers". You don't even have to be a Mick Head fan...but it will sure help!

Some of Hiro's Michael Head Memorabilia
"...from Across the Kitchen Table to Desolation Row..."

Desolation Row Bar in Hida-Takayama
In the beautiful historic town of Hida Takayama nestling in the valleys of the Japanese Alps we also discovered “Desolation Row”. You would never know it was there – a tiny sign that's barely visible hangs over a door and that's about it. The name seems somewhat incongruous in such a charming picture perfect location, there’s certainly not much desolation on view in Hida Takayama that’s for sure! Ken, the bar’s genial and very cool owner is a huge Bob Dylan fan, hence taking the title of the “Highway 61 Revisited” album track as the name of his establishment. Inside there’s a counter and a few seats – there’s hardly any room to move and that’s probably because the first thing you notice is that most of the space is taken up by racks of vinyl albums. Ken welcomes you in and invites you to sit at the counter and chat to other visitors.

Desolation Row Bar in Hida-Takayama
Desolation Row Bar in Hida-Takayama
The talk quickly turns to music and Ken has an album on hand to soundtrack any conversation - for talk about the Rolling Stones we get “Exile on Main Street” and for the Sex Pistols we get somewhat surprisingly "Sid Sings". Of course there is Bob Dylan - lots and lots of Bob Dylan - including rare live recordings and bootlegs alongside the more familiar classics. Ken digs out a scrapbook to show us an article with a Japanese newspaper who contacted him to give some expert analysis in the build up to Dylan’s last Japanese tour. We enjoy ourselves so much that we go back again the next night and proceed to get very, very drunk. Desolation Row, 30 Asahimachi, Hida Takayama, Gifu, Japan.

Ken at Desolation Row, Hida Takayama
Papa-san at Sheep's Horn & Dragon's Whiskers, Nishi-Magome, Tokyo
It’s great to see guys like Ken and Papa-san content and doing something they're passionate about after long and stressful careers as Japanese “salarymen”. Long may they welcome people, encourage friendship, play their music and of course, open another bottle of beer! With sincere thanks to Hiro, Rie, Yoshito, Tacchan the Chameleon King, Chika, Mr & Mrs Matsunaga, the regulars at "Sheep's Horn and Dragon's Whiskers" and of course the one and only Papa-san! You can see lots of videos of their kitchen session gigs at Hiro's YouTube channel here.

Some of Hiro's Michael Head Memorabilia
Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band currently have a new digital jingle “Josephine” out now as a taster for their forthcoming album “Adios Senor Pussycat” which will be released in September on Violette Records. For more information on how to obtain these please check the excellent Violette Records web-site. For up-to-date news and information on upcoming Red Elastic Band live shows please check the Michael Head official site. There's also the superb Shacknet for a wealth of Mick Head related archive material going back to The Pale Fountains.

Friday, 30 June 2017

The Skids - Part 2: "Scared To Dance 1979-1980" Photos by Paul Slattery & "1977 Scottish Punk Revolution" Exhibition


My Retro Man Blog colleague the esteemed Rock Photographer Paul Slattery has had an excellent new photo-book published by Hanging Around entitled "Scared To Dance: The Skids 1979/80" and it's been on sale on merch tables at gigs during The Skids amazingly well received 40th anniversary tour. It's a limited edition 36 page A5 paperback photo-zine and features rare and previously unseen photographs of The Skids taken in 1979 and 1980 at various early London concerts at The Marquee, The Nashville and The Red Cow and locations such as North Queensferry and Dunfermline in Scotland and of Richard Jobson in Berlin. Hanging Around Books is an independent book publisher specialising in music-related photo-books. Based in Dunbar, Scotland, the books are A5 sized paperbacks that carry on the legacy of "Hanging Around" - a punk fanzine that Ronnie Gurr founded in 1977. The first titles feature Simple Minds, U2, The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers. Forthcoming titles will be announced through the web-site and via social media. You can order books and prints and check out more details at the Hanging Around official web-site here.

The Skids North Queensferry 1979 photographed by Paul Slattery
The Skids Southampton 1865 Club June 2017 ©Paul Slattery/Hanging Around Books
An arts hub in Dunfermline, Fire Station Creative (FSC), was the chosen venue for an exhibition of historic photographs from the punk music scene 40 years ago. The show, titled ‘Scared to Dance: The Skids and the Scottish Punk Rock Revolution 1977’ is being curated by Skids frontman, Richard Jobson and music business consultant Ronald Gurr who also used to freelance for Record Mirror and the NME. Sponsored by Fife Council, the exhibition ends on Sunday July 2nd and entry is free to the public. Original artworks, signed, photographic prints and highly collectable books will be on sale at Fire Station Creative, a registered charity. The band also played an intimate sold-out acoustic show at the Gallery earlier this week and donated all profits to the FSC.


Ronnie Gurr explains more about the exhibition and his publishing company: “In 1977 I started a fanzine in Edinburgh called “Hanging Around” and, as a fan, quickly became immersed in the developing Punk scene. Advances in technology had seen fanzines flourish alongside the new music and the recent emergence of high street photocopying shops had allowed me – along with a host of others – to develop as both proto-journalists and self-publishers. In what seemed like an avalanche of visceral and formative live events, Edinburgh hosted seminal gigs by The Saints, Generation X, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, The Clash and many others. Seeing The Skids was believing. In November 1977, they supported Buzzcocks at Edinburgh’s Clouds. Here, for the first time, was a young band that could not only match the performance of the big-name punk bands from down south but one which was actually more vital than many of them. They were our own and special. The Skids gave us the feeling that not only could Scotland compete in this new musical field but that we could be at the forefront of it.


Richard Jobson recently introduced me to this gallery, the Fire Station Creative in Dunfermline and the idea to have an exhibition developed in tandem with the development of Hanging Around Books, my publishing enterprise that specialises in rare and previously unseen music-related photography books. My shots were all taken during 1977 as I went about my fanzine business. Some were used in editions of "Hanging Around” but subsequently lay undiscovered in a box in my garage for nearly 40 years. Unlike Virginia Turbett, Steve Emberton and Paul Slattery, whose prints are included in the Exhibition, I make no claim to be a photographer but the shots taken on my Kodak Instamatic 77x, with cube flashbulbs, do seem to capture, in a rough, ready and honest way, something of the excitement and DIY ethos of that scene”.


Richard Jobson recalls other photographers who have contributed to the exhibition: “Virginia Turbett and Paul Slattery were official photographers working for newspapers such as Sounds and NME and they were a massive step up in taking images of the band. They were both brilliant at getting you to do what they wanted. These old photographs capture the period as well as our attitude and innocence. They are amazing reflections of the time. I’ve never been that interested in looking backwards but this anniversary was worth having another look and listen. I hope people get an understanding of what it was like at the time from the various elements we have put together. The Skids were at the forefront of the Punk movement in Scotland but are never given any credit for the work we did together. This exhibition is an opportunity to show how Punk came to Scotland through bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols and how we were never far away as either a support act or eventually a headline band in our own right. I joined the band when I was 16.

The Skids Photographed by Paul Slattery ©Paul Slattery/Hanging Around Books
We went through a lot together. I am a big supporter of the Fire Station Creative and felt it was the right place to set the scene of Punk in Scotland from 1977, not only in Glasgow and Edinburgh but also in Dunfermline.” The timing for this exhibition is perfect as The Skids reformed to create a new album, “Burning Cities” and embarked upon a 40th anniversary tour. About these events, Richard Jobson said: “It’s been a massive success. Old and new fans have responded to the energy of the old material and the sharpness of the new songs. It started out as a simple idea as a one-off gig which has grown into a full blown UK and Irish tour. The songs feel relevant and retain their edge.”

Richard Jobson photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
You can read my feature on the recent Skids gig at The Roundhouse in London and see some of Paul's excellent photos of the band at their Southampton show at this link. Exhibition photos by Virginia Turbett and Ian Moir. Skids photos copyright Paul Slattery/Hanging Around Books.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Skids - Part 1: Exclusive Paul Slattery Photos from 1865 Club Southampton + The Skids at The Roundhouse Review

The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
I know there is a school of thought that believes "Punk died when the Roxy closed down" but for me it only really began in 1978 when as an impressionable 13 year old I sat open mouthed in front of Top of The Pops and got smacked round the face by what I thought was Punk Rock. Little did I know that many purists would be sneeringly calling this "New Wave" but to me it was unbelievably exciting to be watching bands such as The Jam and The Stranglers strut their angry and energetic stuff on this mainstream Pop show. The next couple of years got even better and for me this was the golden age of the 7" single - bands such as the UK Subs, Generation X, The Ruts, The Specials, The Beat, Buzzcocks and The Undertones were producing stone cold classics that still sound as fresh and vital today as they ever did. Of course one of these bands were The Skids and I still have my copies of "Into The Valley" and the brilliant "Masquerade", my name written in biro on the back cover to make sure I got it back when we all swapped records in the classroom. Once a week after lessons there was a record club and we would often end up with bruised shins and toes from accidentally kicking chairs and desks trying to copy The Skids vocalist Richard Jobson's idiosyncratic dance moves. It would seem kids all over the country were doing the same thing as before tonight's Roundhouse show I was chatting to a pal who told me he had once broken his glasses during a strenuous "Jobson" routine. So, yes indeed there was a fair sense of nostalgia whizzing around the packed venue.

Richard Jobson of The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
The Skids disbanded in 1982 after which Richard Jobson formed the short-lived but excellent Armoury Show and Stuart Adamson went on to huge commercial success with Big Country. Adamson sadly committed suicide in 2001 and as his guitar work and songwriting abilities were such an integral part of The Skids it seemed unlikely that the band could ever consider re-forming. It wasn't until 2007 that a new line-up of The Skids appeared to commemorate the untimely death of Stuart Adamson and to celebrate their 30th anniversary. However, they never played outside Scotland, and no UK tours and no new material in 35 years meant that the existing loyal fan-base hadn’t really been augmented by that many younger fans over the years as has happened with Buzzcocks, The Damned, The Undertones and The Stranglers with their constant touring, new releases and subsequent promotional activity. In addition there has always been the frustrating and downright annoying fact that The Skids rarely get a mention in the numerous music press retrospectives or documentaries looking back on Punk Rock. In fact I always felt that they have been unfairly air-brushed out of music history. I don’t know why. After all they were always innovative and often challenging musically, stretching the boundaries of Punk in the same way that their more critically acclaimed contemporaries such as Wire or Magazine did. Stuart Adamson deserves to be placed alongside Bruce Gilbert from Wire, John McGeogh from Magazine, Keith Levene from PiL and Paul Fox of The Ruts as one of the truly great individual and inspirational guitarists to have come out of Punk. So I must admit to being a bit unsure of what to expect as I headed off to The Roundhouse, but I soon realised I needn't have had any concerns at all...

Jamie & Bruce Watson of The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
The choice of Bruce Watson to replace Stuart Adamson was inspired, after all Bruce did play in Big Country alongside Stuart so not only was there a personal connection but their guitar sounds were always so closely entwined that he was the perfect fit. The addition of Bruce’s son Jamie on second guitar was also a coup as they made a great double act on stage, trading licks and poses together. Jamie, the “Ed Sheeran lookalike” as Richard introduced him, also added some impressive backing vocals and it was nice to see he was very much part of the line-up, not just stuck at the back like a session musician. Richard Jobson led us in a round of applause for Stuart and the situation was perfectly handled, it wasn’t overly sentimental or maudlin and I didn’t hear anyone complaining about Bruce or Jamie’s roles. In fact, truth be told, the band sounded amazing, bursting with a seething energy that proved they were up for this as much as the adoring Roundhouse crowd. Richard Jobson looked remarkably fit and muscular, he didn’t stop moving throughout the whole show and the familiar high kicks and shadow boxing are all present or as he jokingly comments "moving from leg to another". He laughs that he is flattered when someone calls it dancing, but then adds “I don’t care, the music is joyous and takes over” and you just have to admire him. His voice is fantastically rich and powerful too and you realise that he is an extremely underrated singer that certainly deserves a hell of lot more credit than he currently gets.

Richard Jobson of The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
We are treated to a near perfect set-list featuring all those classic hits that I once saw on Top Of The Pops as a teenager and a great selection of album tracks too. I say ‘near perfect’ as for some reason they omit one of my favourite tracks “Sweet Suburbia” which I still remember hearing for the first time on the brilliant compilation album “Twenty of Another Kind” but I guess you can't have everything. From the debut album “Scared To Dance” the vicious “Melancholy Soldiers” is a fist pumping singalong classic and “Of One Skin” is so good it gets played twice. Debut single “Charles” with its nightmarish vision of a factory worker slowly merging into his machine was a sinister delight and of course we get the truly anthemic “The Saints Are Coming” which sees Jobson paying tribute to the firefighters and emergency services who battled so courageously with the Grenfell Tower tragedy. He chats about the band’s early days “the thing about being one of the first Scottish Punk bands was that we got to support all the big names like Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, The Damned and we were better than all of them! Nah, I’m lying, that was just fake news!” 

The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
Original Bassist Bill Simpson looked cool in his shades and his iconic, thunderous intro to “Into The Valley” sent a shiver down the spine, inciting a huge joyous roar from the crowd. Richard tells the story of his audition for The Skids back in 1977 and confesses that afterwards Bill had told Stuart “he can’t sing, he can’t dance” and Stuart replied “that's fantastic!” The tracks from "Days In Europa" are stunning and there's a real thrill when those instantly recognisable bubbling sequencers and synth motifs that herald “Working For The Yankee Dollar” and “Animation” fizz out of the speakers. “Masquerade”, “Charade” there's so many great songs and such depth of material. More stunning tracks from the album such as “Thanatos”, “'Dulce et Decorum Est” and “The Olympian” prove that they could have easily extended their impressive run of hit singles if they had been chosen. Talking of strength of material, “Out of Town” one of my personal favourites on the night was originally just a B-side to the stand-alone release “Masquerade” and I thought most bands would kill to have a single as good as “Out of Town” let alone a B-side!

Mike Baillie of The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
I couldn’t see much of drummer Mike Baillie as he was hidden behind his cymbals but his drumming was mightily impressive. Mike joined the band in time to play on their most commercially successful album “The Absolute Game” and from that we got a scorching “Circus Games” which was one of the highlights of the night. I wasn’t so keen on this album when it originally came out, particularly the singles “Hurry On Boys” and “Woman In Winter”, but tonight they were outstanding as Richard turned them both into huge emotionally charged singalongs, encouraging everyone to join in on backing vocals. He thanks us for being the only crowd on the tour so far who haven’t shouted out for “TV Stars”, the “worst song we ever wrote”, but of course they play it anyway…after all the chance to scream “Albert Tatlock!” at the top of your voice was never going to be passed up. The good news is that the future looks bright for The Skids too as for the final encore they played a promising new song from their forthcoming album “Burning Skies” and I sincerely hope that this will be successful in enticing another generation of music fans to check out The Skids.

The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
Eagle-eyed Skids fans might notice that although my review is from The Roundhouse in London, Paul Slattery’s photos are from the gig in Southampton. It’s rare that we attend different shows but I’m sure you would much rather see Paul’s excellent pictures than mine! Anyway I can recommend those of you who were at Southampton to check out Ged Babey’s superb review in “Louder Than War” if you want your photos and feature in sync. The forthcoming Skids album “Burning Skies” is available to pre-order via a Pledgemusic campaign here and you can also order a live CD of the Roundhouse show here. Paul Slattery has a book of his early Skids photos entitled "Scared To Dance: The Skids 1979-80" published by Hanging Around Books which is run by the music journalist, and long-time Skids supporter, Ronnie Gurr. You can see some videos of The Skids and support act The Vapors at The Roundhouse over at our YouTube channel here. For up-to-date news and details of future tour dates please check out the official Skids web-site here.

Richard Jobson photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
With thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent pictures. All photos copyright Paul Slattery 2017.