Me First & The Gimme Gimmes + The Skints + Capdown + Animal Music @ O2 Academy, Leicester – Friday 19th December 2014

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Review by Mark Granger

The Jagermeister tour rolls into Leicester with a slightly different bill to the previous night in Liverpool, instead of the heavy onslaught of Feed The Rhino Leicester gets the slightly out of place drum and bass four piece Animal Music. They arrive on stage full of manic energy; a DJ, a drummer, a singer and, erm, a guy who shouts a lot. Performing dancy reworkings of songs from across the musical spectrum including The Killers ‘Mr Brightside’, White Stripes ‘7 Nation Army’ and ‘Nobody to Love’ by pop dance types Sigma. They keep the energy level high throughout, but the crowd just isn’t on side and the dance floor remains sparse despite repeated calls to ‘step towards the fucking stage’. Animal Music were the wild card tonight and despite a heavy, non stop adrenaline rush of a set they won few new fans tonight.

Suddenly the dance floor is full as Capdown take to the stage, young and old fans alike unite to skank like there’s no tomorrow. Although claiming that they aren’t really a band anymore they sure as hell sound like one and after a couple of songs even they admit that they sound ‘tighter than a nun’s chuff’ tonight. Tearing through their set like it may be their last, the crowd goes crazy for fan favourites like ‘Cousin Cleotis’ and ‘Pound for the Sound’. Capdown may be a few years older but they still have the same fire they always had.

After the punk fuelled rush of Capdown, The Skints arrive to chill out proceedings. With an airtight rhythm section that’s all the more impressive when you take in to account the amount of singing/rapping drummer Jamie Kyriakides does, and the sickeningly talented saxophonist/keyboard player/melodica player/percussionist/vocalist/rapper Marcia Richards managing to fit most of those talents in the space of one song you know you’re in the presence of a special band. Having slowly built up a following over the last decade, at least half the crowd is here to see The Skints and it shows; each song getting rapturous applause and guitarist/vocalist Josh Waters Rudge has the crowd in the palm of his hand. Their set cherry picks songs from their entire back catalogue and they play an excellent new track called ‘Forest From The Trees’.  We even get a reggae-d up version of Black Flag’s ‘My War’. Ending on ‘Culture Vulture’ from their debut album Live.Breath.Build.Believe. the band leave the stage to shouts for an encore but it’s time to get our punk on once more.

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes Me First & The Gimme Gimmes saunter on stage, three fifths original members with Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley as this tours nominated Fat Mike replacement and regular touring guitarist Scott Shiflett looking to all the world like a punk rock T-1000. Wasting no time, the band launch headlong into John Denver’s ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’, the crowd erupts and the first of a ridiculous amount of crowd surfers make their way over the sea of heads. We get even more country with the welcome inclusion of ‘(Ghost) Riders in the Sky’ and ‘Jolene’, and the crowd love it. The Gimme Gimmes are a party band and both the band and the crowd are well aware of that fact, as covers of Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up’, a high speed ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ and frankly ridiculous versions of The Carpenters’ ‘Top Of The World’ and Culture Club’s ‘Karma Chameleon’ show. One can’t help but think that any staff unaware of the band must be flummoxed by the crowd of punks going mental for show tunes and 80’s pop songs but the love for the Gimmes is unwavering and the crowd don’t let up. An encore of a Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ featuring Spike Slawson in Uke-Hunt mode on solo ukulele, sees the biggest sing-along of the night and pogotastic set closer ‘I Will Survive’ gives the crowd surfers one last chance to annoy the security.

All the bands tonight gave it their all and with the unfortunate (and possibly unfair) exception of Animal Music, the crowd lapped it up. Me First & The Gimme Gimmes ended the night with a massive party and what more could you ask for for Christmas?