Review: The Skids, O2 Academy, Newcastle

The Skids put on a superb show at the O2 Academy - their first North East date in 37 years.
The Skids put on a superb show at the O2 Academy - their first North East date in 37 years.
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The Skids were always one of those bands who were a cut above your average three-chord punk group.

For me they were post-punk before the term was even invented, and that was due in no small part to the presence of their brilliant guitarist, Stuart Adamson, who later went on to enjoy worldwide success with Big Country.

The Skids frontman Richard Jobson in action at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. All pics: Gary Welford.

The Skids frontman Richard Jobson in action at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. All pics: Gary Welford.

Sadly, he isn't around to take part in the 40th anniversary tour that this show was part of, having taken his own life in 2001. But you get the feeling he'll be looking down on his old bandmates and enjoying this exultant celebration of the music they made just as much as they so obviously did.

Original singer Richard Jobson, bassist Bill Simpson and drummer Mike Baillie from the band's classic 1979-80 line-up have reunited for a 30-date UK tour, to mark them becoming one of Scotland's first punk groups in 1977.

It's testament to Adamson's skill as a guitarist that his place is filled by not one but two men, his old Big Country pal Bruce Watson, and Watson's son Jamie, and they do an excellent job, giving today's Skids a huge sound.

The power of the songs is something Jobson - still doing his uninhibited dad-dancing around the stage at the age of 56 - referred to more than once during an 85-minute set that some of the audience, myself included, have waited almost a lifetime for (this was their first North East gig, I think, since 1980).

Bruce Watson was one of the two guitarists who filled the shoes of his former Big Country bandmate Stuart Adamson.

Bruce Watson was one of the two guitarists who filled the shoes of his former Big Country bandmate Stuart Adamson.

I never saw The Skids in their original incarnation, but this show demonstrated that good music, written about things that matter, stands the test of time. It certainly exceeded all my expectations.

From the opening Animation to the closing singalong reprise of Woman In Winter, this was a wonderful night, and, as Jobson so perfectly put it, "does anyone else feel like they're 16 again?"

One by one they ticked off the songs you wanted to hear: the Top 40 hits Working For The Yankee Dollar, Charade, Circus Games, and, closing the main set, the marvellous one-two of Masquerade and Into The Valley.

They reclaimed The Saints Are Coming from U2/Green Day, who recorded it in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and dedicated it to the London firefighters who "did a great job in impossible circumstances" in the recent Grenfell Tower fire.

The Skids drummer Mike Baillie.

The Skids drummer Mike Baillie.

Tribute was paid to Adamson, who founded the band, with Scared To Dance, "his ghost can be heard in every note", and classic album tracks such as Melancholy Soldiers, Thanatos, Dulce et Decorum Est and (a candidate for song of the night) The Olympian were dusted off for the fans of old - and there were plenty of them here.

There were mass crowd singalongs to Hurry On Boys (a signpost of the direction Adamson would head in with Big Country) and Woman In Winter, and we were all teenage punks again as we chanted "Albert Tatlock" to a suitably updated TV Stars, which, said Jobson, was "the worst song we ever wrote".

The best news of all is that the Skids aren't just back to celebrate their past, but have a new album, Burning Cities - their first studio effort in 36 years - due out in August.

Its lead track A World On Fire was the only new song played here, but it received a good reception, and that hopefully means we won't have to wait so long for another Skids gig. After all, who wouldn't want more nights like this? I'm sure the troubled genius that was Stuart Adamson would approve.

The Skids bass player Bill Simpson.

The Skids bass player Bill Simpson.

The Skids guitarist Jamie Watson.

The Skids guitarist Jamie Watson.

Richard Jobson indulges in a spot of his trademark dancing.

Richard Jobson indulges in a spot of his trademark dancing.

Jamie, left, and Bruce Watson on stage at the O2 Academy.

Jamie, left, and Bruce Watson on stage at the O2 Academy.

The Skids frontman Richard Jobson.

The Skids frontman Richard Jobson.