Live Review: The Skints, Current Swell and Gecko – Academy 3, Manchester – 21/05/2013

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The sun is trying pushing its best to push away the couds so that it can reveal itself for all the summery tunes of dub, ska and reggae that are being relished upstairs in Academy 3 on Manchester’s Oxford Road. This building and the other Academy venues on this road are the big leagues before the thousand capacities of 02 Apollo and then arena efforts of the M.E.N. So, big expectations from The Skints tonight then. Let’s begin, and don’t forget your dancing shoes.

The night i initiated by Gecko who unfortunately play to a pretty small crowd to one that fills the majority of the room by the time their set ends. I’m first hit by sheer amazement; not necessarily because of Gecko (I’ll get to them, don’t worry) but because of the sound in the room. I’ve seen plenty of shows here and this is by far the best it’s ever sounded and I can’t stress how good it is; I hope everyone appreciates it as much as I do. Our lovely band in question Gecko sound remarkably crisp and every instrumentally, specifically vocal harmonies, gel together perfectly. A song about the library, possibly entitled ‘In The Library’ is a wonderful, lyrically clever tune about well, a library. It really stuck out live with the use of dynamics, dropping into a quiet deliverance reflecting a, yeah, a library. I thought it worked really well so kudos there! It’s good to see that not everything has to be played so incredibly loud. The frontman looks more into it than the rest of the band, and that’s the only criticism really; lack of energy. Crowd interaction was had and pulled off well considering the lack of crowd and the early time. Gecko aren’t quite there just yet, but in time and with more support slots like this they easily could be. (3.5/5)

As Josh from The Skints later says in his set ‘We just wanted to bring you good music’ which explains the country/folk of 4 gentlemen that call themselves Current Swell. The first track features a lap steel and their sound is what I can only personally describe as Crazy Arm (without the punk) making acquaintances with Cage The Elephant in a Western style saloon; listen to Current Swell and that’ll make sense. Their music feels so cowboy-esque Western that it could be the backing for a montage of bull pens, cow branding and other cowboy stereotypes and would feel right at place. Both guitarists share singing duties in the second song and later on the bassists joins in on the activities for some very slick and smooth 3 part harmonies. The band don’t have their feet stuck to the floor like Gecko and play some more complex music, but I still can’t quite feel that they’re quite up there with the big leagues yet. Oh, I shouldn’t forget the centre staged guitarist who changed a string during ONE SINGLE CHORUS and carried on singing like it was just an average thing to do. Mad skills there brother, well bloody done. (3.5/5)

The last time I saw The Skints I think would’ve been at Slam Dunk a few years back. The first time was at a small venue called The Parish in Huddersfield before things really kicked off; I’d forgotten just how good they are. Everything sounds perfect, be it the notes and hits that come together to create these songs, the vocalists and their harmonies and the mix, with dub delays on the vocals and second snare all from that wonderful (give him a raise) sound man. Josh bears every frontman trait required of any “major league” band; the looks, the interaction and the charm. The thing is though, he doesn’t need to work too hard. Of course he does, but the crowd are giving it back without having received. They’re bopping away and singing along, even to those sweet, sweet bass lines at so many opportunities. As the heat rises the songs keep on flowing. way past the venue’s curfew. Fan favourite dub cover of Katy B’s ‘On A Mission’ hits the spot whilst older songs such as ‘Murderer’ are sang along to the very end. A special present to the Manchester and London show, Parly B join onstage for a rare play of ‘Soundboy’. Let’s not forget the new songs, full of summer vibes and even some soul influences creeping in. It leaves many hyped for the new album and many leaving with very sweaty bodies. The whole room was grooving along and it’s easier to imagine the same with crowds larger than this. The band are much better for a room this size and have shown up many of the bands I’ve seen play here. This is how you do it. (4.5/5)

4/5

Words by Mikey Brown (@MikeyMiracle)

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