Upstairs at Camden’s Enterprise is a small affair.
The stage sits barely two feet off the ground and with fifty or so beer swilling punters it’s beginning to get a little cramped towards the back. When Skinny Lister enter the scene, five strong and sporting a double bass as big as a bath tub, you know that you may be in for a little more than bargained for.
The folk outfit have been making all the right noises of late, having signed up with Rob Da Bank’s label Sunday Best, while a handful of dates dotted around the country in anticipation of their first full length offering, ‘Forge & Flagon‘, have seen Lister showcase an array of promising new tracks.
Kicking off with a rousing a-Capella stomp before heading straight into ‘Trawler Man’, it’s not long before the accordion is jammed into gear and cries of “Haul away” are bouncing back and forth around this tiny, North London venue.
The pace is then dipped slightly for the beautiful and captivating ‘Colours,’ a track which sees vocalists Dan Heptinstall and Lorna Thomas blend their fitting harmonies together perfectly, creating a cohesion that ebbs and flows across the accompanying ukulele and mandolin.
Fire up the double bass and accordion (it may actually be a concertina) and queue the Skinny Sisters, a quartet of dancing beauties in matching floral dresses who spend the night jigging with the crowd and passing round a very large flagon of rum. ‘If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down’ is played with all the fervour of a Dublin post-prohibition party and the wooden flooring physically starts to bounce as members of the crowd stomp and twirl and beer flies out of glasses.
Lorna Thomas’ voice tonight has a devilish, playful fire which is not once lost in the music, but instead adds intensity to a collection of strings and keys that are extremely well harnessed together. For a band without a drum kit they certainly know how to make a lot of noise.
“This better be bloody loud” shouts Thomas before all tools are downed and the foot stomp of ‘John Kanaka’ is belted out into the night with gorgeous ferocity and simplicity.
The beautiful, sun filled waltz of ‘Seventeen Summers’ sees the Skinny Sisters slow dance with the crowd and it’s not long before Lorna Thomas herself is down off the stage and revelling in the atmosphere. Dan Heptinstall’s voice carries a brilliant traditional quality that allows you to lose yourself in a haze of dandelion fields and apple orchards.
The bulk of tonight feels like one big Irish folk jam as ukulele and mandolin both work in tandem against a bullish double bass and playful concertina. The pace rarely slows and neither does the crowd. ‘40 Pound Wedding’ rounds off in rapturous style a night of romp and stomp revelry that manages to exceed every expectation of a Wednesday night pub gig.
Lister’s string of live dates coincides with the June 11th release of ‘Forge & Flagon‘, surely this summer’s must have record. They’re not sticking around for long either, as they’ll be embarking on the mammoth Vans Warped Tour kicking off mid June, which will see them play venues across the US from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada.
And with all the attention they’ll be receiving they may just find they’ve somewhat outgrown the backroom pub scene when they return.