Report: The Skints & Hollie Cook in Hamburg, Germany - April 9th 2015
04/12/2015 by Gardy Stein
THE SKINTS ls. HOLLIE COOK, April 9th 2015 in Hamburg @ Goldener Salon
Normally, it is quite easy to tell which one is the main and which one is the support act in a live concert. Thursday night, however, this distinction was a bit harder to make. Many of my friends were here because of Hollie Cook, while I had so fallen in love with the album FM which The Skints released a month ago that I gladly took the opportunity to see them live. And who needs distinctions anyway? Let's just say we were in for a night of two major shows!
Even the way to the venue was an uplifting experience: spring in the air, people strolling around in a pre-weekend-mood, the harbour making an utmost effort to look good in the dawn, shining lights and all… A few minutes before the announced show-time I reached the Goldener Salon (Hafenklang's fancy first floor), ready to hang out and have a chat with friends before things would get going. But no way - at 9pm sharp, General Roots started on their instruments (Joe Price on guitar, Luke Allwood on keys, brothers James and Ben McKone on bass and drums), and then this elfin person appeared on stage and started to sing right away. Dressed in shorts and a red blouse with matching red lipstick that created a pleasant contrast to her dark eyes and curly-black crown of hair, Hollie Cook feels comfortable on stage. This became obvious already during the first song Tigerbalm after which she took a sip of wine and welcomed the visitors. Comfortable is what describes her performance in the tracks that follow, too. Almost oblivious of the world around her, Hollie swathed the spellbound listeners with Shadow Kissing, It's So Different Here and Sugar Water, oscillating between the personae of sweet neighbourhood girl, sexy vamp and celebrated rock star. "It's nice to be back in Hamburg where it all started a few years ago!" she said, and Joe told me later on that it was indeed here at the Fischmarkt that Hollie Cook and General Roots had their first ever gig together 4 years ago. Hollie then carried on with Superfast, 99 and Milk & Honey, and I marvel at her ability to control both the low and the high vocal ranges. Expressing her gratitude to be a part of The Skints' tour, she closed her set with Postman and invited everyone to take a look at the merch stand.
While people followed her invitation and did have a look at the table ruled by Ollie and Adam (beautifully designed vinyls available!), there was an unsuspected selection of 90es dancehall to bridge the changeover initiated by tour manager Thomas. 30 minutes later, The Skints were all set, stepped on stage and, without further ado, kicked it off with This Town.
Joshua Waters Rudge (guitar & vocals) ignited the crowd with his energetic presence on stage and everyone got moving. I love this massive! No smartphones blocking everyone's view, nobody cares about whether or not this particular movement looks cool - they just jump into it and have fun. I was lost in awe once more watching Marcia Richards ("My sister from another Mister", as Joshua introduced her) controlling both that beautiful voice of hers and two keyboards as well as a melodica and a bunch of other serious technical devices set up in front of her - skills! Speaking of: Jamie Kyriakides did not only play a tight set of drums, he also sang, the whole time, while playing! Songs like Rubadub, In The Night and Forest For The Trees were a perfect playground for their threefold vocal harmonies, while the dancing mood was boiling over in Friends And Business or Rise Up. People gave it up for Joshua when he spat his rapid lyrics in the mic, and he was obviously enjoying himself, telling people that "It's so good to be here!". The whole time bass-player John Doyle rocked along, grinning like a Cheshire cat and holding up the vibes. These guys are so damn likeable!!!
Likeable as well was that Hollie Cook and band mingled with the crowd and enjoyed themselves as much as the audience did. The niceness didn't stop with a short excursion into Big Ship Sailing On The Ocean to which the massive sang along, after which my personal highlight was reached with Tomorrow. While I got lost in the beauty of this song, I wondered why we don't get to hear more of this musical greatness in the dances and parties said to represent Reggae and Dancehall. All they ever play is the Jamaican charts (nothing wrong with that, mind!), but there is so much more out there! Just last Tuesday we had a band from Sweden called Bellaroush playing a small gig, and they too make awesome music! Hopefully this worldwide diversity will seep through eventually…
Meanwhile, The Skints reached the end of their set. Joshua orchestrated a funny applause-action and then they dived in a short encore of Up Against The Wall (with an intro of Carmen), Got No Say and Culture Vulture. What a vibe! Breathless and elated we were released into the last minutes of this Thursday evening, and some of the band members stuck around for a chat, pictures and autographs with their fans.
And now I do have to come back to the term mentioned in the beginning, because these two bands deserve an Order of Distinction for bringing us exceptionally beautiful and meaningful music. Thanks Hollie Cook and General Roots, thanks The Skints for blessing us with your visit!!!