Live Review: Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, The Skints, Capdown & Animal Music UK – O2 Academy, Leeds – 20/12/14

There’s a pretty well accepted tradition that a bit of a booze can turn a good gig crowd into a great one. With that in mind a tour sponsored by everyone’s favourite cough medicine tasting spirit manufacturer Jaegermeister, one complete with shots being sold in the crowd throughout the show, should result in lively spectators and a cracking night. And so it proved when the tour rolled into Leeds’ O2 Academy just five days before Christmas. Oh and the bands weren’t too shabby either.

British dub step outfit Animal Music UK did a solid job of opening the night, making the best of the opportunity despite their unusually early set time resulting in it ending before the venue was particularly full. The band’s polished beats and pristine vocals gave a strong impression, and the smooth dub step meets reggae and hip hop vibe quickly got all present more then ready for the ska punk to come. (3/5)

UK ska-punk veterans Capdown received a heroes reception and quickly injected plenty of life into the room with their infectiously boisterous and upbeat live show. The O2 Academy saw near wall to wall skanking and pogoing as each new song set of fresh waves of nostalgic alcohol fuelled glee. An impassioned impromptu speech from frontman Jake Sims-Fielding about the importance of not worrying about what’s cool, and simply focusing on the music and having fun summing up the mood and manner of Capdown’s set nicely and winning himself even more new friends in the process. (3/5)

In the last few years London’s The Skints have become the undisputed kings and queen of UK ska punk. And it’s really not hard to see why based on this showing. Live the band are vibrant, unique and throw enough genres into the mix that almost any music fan could find something to like and put on one hell of an enjoyable show while doing so.

‘The Cost Of Living is Killing Me’, and chilled out bass driven new song ‘The Sound Of The Forest’ all go down a storm, before the band provided their own take on a Black Flag track. (3.5/5)

That just left punk rock’s most famous supergroup, and the best example their could possibly be of what happens when a group of punk dudes hit middle age and stop caring what the world thinks, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, to bring this drunken pre Christmas bash to a chaotic, high tempo and genuinely funny close.

Although MF&TGG’s were at slightly less then their usual full star power, Fat Mike was unable to make the tour, he had Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley provided a more then fitting replacement standing in on bass and joke cracking duties.

Clad in particularly natty matching Hawaiian shirts and white slacks combos with frontman Spike Slawson rocking a white suit straight out of Miami Vice, the band proceeded to tear their way through their rather bonkers back catalogue of covers at break neck speed. Pausing only for Slawson to claim the band were from a different town in California after each song while the rest of the band gratefully took the chance to catch their breath.

After opening with raucously received renditions of ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ and ‘Me And Julio Down By The School Yard’ it didn’t take long for things to get a tad surreal, as basically the entirety of the academy was soon bouncing as one and roaring the words to ‘Summertime’, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Karma Chameleon’. And that’s just not the sort of thing you see at every gig. The latter track, like a lot of the set, was taken from the band’s newest release ‘Me First and The Gimme Gimmes Are Not Men, We Are Diva!’.

The (cover) hits just kept on coming as ‘Seasons In The Sun’ quickly followed before Slawson played a solo ukulele offering from his new solo project ‘Uke Hunt’ (say it quickly’…) and later broke out the tiny guitar again to lead his band in a suitably festive show closing performance of ‘Here It Is Merry Christmas’ to send the crowd home both happy and mostly full of the tour sponsor’s fine fine product.

All in all the Jaegermeister Tour provided a massively fun night that initially showcased the past and present of the best of UK ska punk; before throwing sensibilities and musical pretension out of the window as Leeds got into the spirit of the season with Spike Slawson and his cover toting superstars. It may not have been clever, but damn it was entertaining. (4/5)

3.5/5

Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)

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