Sentinel Daily arrives at this well appointed venue in the heart of Reading just after Adverts alumnus TV Smith takes the stage, and immediately gets drawn into the man’s easy way with a tune.
He stands alone on stage for a while, peeling off tracks classic and new solo with a self deprecating, at times slightly nervous bonhomie before his confidence is boosted by the arrival of Ruts D.C. man Leigh Haggerty for the run home, including, of course, a triumphant run through the classic Adverts standard Looking Through Gary Gilmour’s Eyes. At times Smith’s acoustic ire has a whiff of the Levellers about it, and his performance tonight is an unexpected but welcome triumph.
If Smith comes across as slightly nervous, The Skids suffer no such problems. Frontman Richard Jobson’s self belief has never been in question – ever – and tonight he leads his troops through a rabble rousing performance that has the surprisingly full venue in the palm of its collective hands from the get-go.
A sea of balding and already-smooth heads welcome each track – even the not-quite-so-effective new material – with fervour that surprises as much as it pleases – and at times even Jobson seems genuinely affected by the response his ludicrous dancing and sometimes tedious between song patter elicits. Still, you have every right to a degree of self confidence when your oeuvre includes tracks of the calibre of Masquerade, Melancholy Soldiers, The Saints Are Coming, Working For the Yankee Dollar and Into the Valley (all played tonight with fire and passion, all welcomed like long lost siblings, especially by the man dancing with worrying abandon in front of your reviewer). And when Jobson stops the show to give a brief eulogy for fallen comrade Stuart Adamson before a heroic rendition of Charlie, you get the sense that even behind the sixty year old bluster and bravado there resides a genuine love and respect for the musical legacy the Skids continue to nurture.
Adamson’s Big Country compadre Bruce Watson puts in a big shift on gratifyingly heavy lead guitar, but in the best radical punk tradition this is a collective effort, and tonight the collective is firing on all cylinders. Their British tour continues throughout the month and you’d be a fool if they come to your town and you don’t give them a shot.