Billed as 'Double Trouble', a combined two and a half hours of Beans and the Skinnies on the famous Ritz sprung dance floor was the perfect alternative to the masses of parent accompanied pre-teens pouring into Manchester for Little Mix. No less enthusiastic though, a case of Lister-mania - as per the branding on the famous flagon and Dan's guitar (and wouldn't it make a great T shirt? - tested out the famous Ritz sprung dance floor for those joining in the shanty punk carousing while taking care not to spill a drop from the eco-friendly and more eco-nomical two pint cups of beer that prove a star buy at The Ritz these days.
But first, apologies for mentioning a healthy portion of Beans. Playing in his natural solo guise or as a duo, even with his four piece band flanking him, Beans is nothing less than thoroughly entertaining. Plenty to say, naturally, with no danger of a pregnant pause of embarrassing silence while he tunes up. And very unlike Mr Morrissey, what he has to say is relevant, sensible and remarkably uncontroversial.
The band backing occasionally swung into a Dylan country feel, although you can't see Sir (or is it Doctor?) Bob barefoot with the waistband of his jeans dangerously resting halfway down his ass. Along with some new band arrangements of old shit (his words), plenty of the new album 'Cushty' was present, nice and ripe with observations on how the world and Britain is basically shit, the fate of Sherwood's Major Oak, who would you have a drink with, even some love songs about teachers and nurses and a rare touching moment with 'The Sun The Moon And Me'. Oh and the chance to hear about his new found admiration for Germany and its culture immortalised in song.
Skinny Lister meanwhile, can now tick off yet another Manchester venue on their mission to play in every single music venue round the world. Many in attendance were, of course with them at Gorilla across the road earlier in the year so it was a genuine "it's good to be back" if not in the same venue. No new album to promote but the deluxe version of last years 'The Devil, The Heart, The Fight' is out and yields a new Christmas song that they were more than happy to roll out and never letting the grass grow, album 4 is under construction. A brand new song, 'Architecture' got a road testing early on in the set once whatever cobwebs might have been left were blown away. Lyrics referring to "an earthquake in the making" and a throbbing Stranglers style bassline on the electric bass, otherwise, business as usual.
A riotous 'John Kanaka' that rolled into 'Rolling Over' is a classic Skinny segue and it was good to hear 'If The Gaff Don't Let Us Down' from the first album which seems to have been absent a while. Whatever, like John Lewis, Skinny Lister are the archetypal never knowingly undersold item. Reliably and consistently gig fit and delivering their part of the double trouble deal with a wham bam whallop and the occasional breather over their hour and a bit. They remain a rousing and exhilarating experience with no sign of their relentless pace dropping just yet.
Mike Ainscoe words and pictures
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