Review: Devilskin/Skarlett Riot – Audio, Glasgow 23 Feb 2016

Devilskin/Skarlett Riot – Audio, Glasgow 23rd Feb 2016

This was one hotly anticipated gig. The Devilskin album is immense, and with the band being from New Zealand, I did not expect to see them play these shores so soon… but disaster struck!

Main support for the evening was provided by a young band from Scunthorpe who are quickly making a name for themselves thanks to songs steeped in glorious hooks as well as some high energy live performances. Skarlett Riot might be young, but what they lack in years, they more than make up for in confidence. Whilst confidence is an admirable trait to have, it doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have the songs to back it up. Thankfully, Skarlett Riot have enough bangers up their sleeves to grab your attention. Singer/guitarist Skarlett is a pocket rocket, and wastes no time in getting the crowd on her side by blowing them away with her powerful voice and her onstage bravado. Not many support acts would attempt some audience participation in a sparsely populated room, but when she asks if anyone has seen the band before, a fair few hands go up. The songs are fresh and full of life, and as well as a sparkling performance from Skarlett, the other guys in the band prove that they aren’t slouches either. Martin and Luke, on bass and drums respectively, keep up a steady backbone that allows lead guitarist Danny to impress with his delicious riffs. It’s easy to see that these guys have worked hard in the rehearsal room, and on the road, to gain such an understanding. ‘Adrenaline’, ‘House Of Cards’, and ‘Ignite’ are all excellent slices of modern day rock-with-an-attitude. Songs that belittle the age of the band performing them. Catchy, but crunchy enough to get some heads bobbing. With new material on the horizon, it’s fair to say that Skarlett Riot’s stock should be on the rise soon enough. Next time they come to your town, do yourself a favour and go check them out.

Tonight’s show from Devilskin it is probably the hardest review I have ever ever had to write. I am already on my third draft, as I cannot do the situation justice. As I said above, disaster struck tonight, and in more ways than one.

I left for the venue nice and early, and the first issue arose before too long. On my way to Glasgow, someone decided to commit suicide from the bridge that connects the main motorway to Glasgow, so I am delayed from doing an interview with the band. I do manage to speak to James the bands manager, and he informed me Jen has been ill since she got to the UK, but like the trouper she is, she has made the stage each night and still managed to kill it.

To be honest, I was worried whether Jen would be up for the show, but showtime arrived, and the band took to the stage minus Jen… It’s okay, I tell myself, this is planned. The band kick off into the best title of a song ever (and the song is none too shabby either) ‘Elvis Presley Circle Pit’, and my heart is full to bursting, until I see Jen take to the stage with water and a bottle of cough syrup (oh shit, I thought).

Anyone that has heard Jen singing, be it on record or live, will know that she has a mighty and very powerful voice, but with the opening verse that has left her tonight. She just could not get the words out… not even the ever powerful “Fuck you!” held the anger and ferocity it should. The band look worried but played on.

At the end of the first song, Jen is downing the cough mixture and water as if her life depended on it, and then she goes full swing into ‘Vessel’. The band is as tight as the proverbial Scotsman, and Jen gives it her all. The crowd are on her side, as they can see her coughing between words, but you just knew she was out on her feet like a punch drunk street boxer who needs to keep going or they will not get paid, but unlike the boxer, this is about pride and not wanting to let an audience down.

‘Until You Bleed’ starts off, and the bopping and jumping from the crowd continues. At this point, I was still taking photographs, and I could see close up just how ill she was. As the song finishes, Jen takes to the side of the stage followed by Nail and Paul to huddle round. This left Nic for an impromptu drum solo.

The crowd got into the solo, but I was more focused on poor Jen. If it had been stopped at that point I would not have minded, as I knew she was only damaging herself and her voice at that point but no, she is obviously one stubborn woman (way to go, girl), and comes back out. The set list is rejigged and we managed to get another couple of numbers before Jen had to leave the stage for good. As she left, her eyes were filled with tears of anger, frustration, and disappointment.

Now, you could quite easily say this was a wasted venture for the fans, but this is Scotland, a country that has a history of pain, heartache, and constant defeat. The nation that constantly get that old “Braveheart” label every time  our football or rugby team get oh-so-close, but fall flat on their arse as always. We can handle defeat, we can handle failure, but it is all about how you got there. I have witnessed many a band who were still treading the boards many years after the singer’s voice has left. I have witnessed bands who were so wasted they didn’t know what year it was. I have watched bands who quite franky didn’t want to be there… I even saw Ritchie Blackmore storm off stage in a huff and leave the rest of Deep Purple to try to do “Smoke On The Water” without a guitarist! This type of behaviour we cannot stand. I am not paying out money to see this type of nonsense, and for most of these bands I have never been back to see them again… and I will tell you right now, Jennie Skullander has more spirit and balls than all those guys. She fought to the very end, and left nothing on that stage.

For that, Scotland loves you, and my admiration for the band is even higher now, especially as the rest of the band came out and spoke to everyone after the show. This is a band of superior morals, and although this show did not go as expected, I would not have missed it for the world.

Get well Jen, and come back and rock our world sometime soon… we will be waiting.

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Skarlett Riot review: Dave Stott

Devilskin review: Ritchie Birnie

Images Ritchie Birnie

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