REVIEW: Skinny Lister, The Cluny, Newcastle

Skinny Lister at The Cluny. Pic: Gary Welford.

Skinny Lister at The Cluny. Pic: Gary Welford.

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You sensed as soon as Lorna Thomas bounded onstage in her trademark pretty cotton print dress with a can of lager in one hand and a flagon of rum in the other that it was going to be a special night.

And so it proved as the indie-folk outfit turned in a storming performance on the third night of their biggest headline tour to date.

They're promoting their third album, The Devil, The Heart & The Fight, and proved beyond doubt that they're very much a band on the up.

Formed in London in 2009, this was the first appearance in the main room at The Cluny, after graduating from the small Cluny 2, and it was packed.

I'd imagine their gigs are akin to an early Pogues show, before Shane MacGowan and co. enjoyed chart success and moved on to bigger venues.

They're raucous, drunken affairs, and even if you've never heard them, I'd challenge anyone to go to a Skinny Lister gig and not enjoy themselves.

Their appeal is simple: catchy singalong songs, great musicianship and a real sense of band and audience being all in it together - down to the passing round of the aforementioned flagon of rum..

Lorna - who shares main vocal duties with Dan Heptinstall - has enough energy to power a small town, and her enthusiasm is such that you can't help falling a little in love with her.

Most of the new album got an airing, making up about half of the setlist, and even though it's only been out a week, most of the crowd knew the songs already.

The likes of Injuries, Devil In Me and Geordie Lad received a rapturous reception, but the pick of the new songs was probably main set closer Hamburg Drunk.

The old songs which helped establish the group's growing reputation weren't forgotten though, with If The Gaff Don't Let Us Down, Rollin' Over, Seventeen Summers, This Is War, Trouble On Oxford Street and George's Glass all dusted off.

There wasn't a lot of room for six people on the tiny stage, so a couple of members left the sanctity of the stage and went crowd-surfing.

But double bass player Michael Camino (complete with instrument) and singer Lorna were in safe hands as they were passed over the heads of the audience and back again to the front.

The highpoint of the night wasn't one of their own songs, however, it was the huge, noisy singalong to the sea shanty John Kanaka, which has become the band's rallying call.

If you haven't experienced Skinny Lister live, I'd recommend you do so before they make it big; these are the sort of gigs you'll remember for years.