Skinny Lister – The Leadmill, Sheffield

Skinny Lister – The Leadmill, Sheffield

It’s the second night of Skinny Lister’s headline, sold out UK tour on the back of third album The Devil, The Heart & The Fight. Skinny Lister always seem to be gigging. I have no idea when they find the time to write and record new material but they manage it and the quality never slips. Their third album is glossier and more polished than Down On Deptford Broadway and Forge & Flagon but it still has that distinctive Skinny Lister feel. Punk Shanties I think has to be the accepted Lister genre. Certainly live the new songs get the full on SL treatment.

There are many things I crave in a live performance but paramount is fun. To see a band fully immerse themselves in the joy of playing live will always lead to a great gig. It feeds into the audience and the night is a constant domino effect. As the band get more and more vibrant on stage the crowd get more and more chaotic. Skinny Lister live are immense fun. And more. Their musicianship is second to none. Each band member delivers.

Front and centre is Lorna Thomas, a whirling, flirtatious dervish. The only time she stops flailing round the stage is on one of her many excursions into the crowd. A brave move for someone who was having costume issues. She’s flanked by singer/songwriter/guitarist Dan Heptinstall and multi instrumentalist Max Thomas. Max is also a blur. All accordion and barked vocals. The energy is palpable. Must be something in the Thomas genes, still if your Dad is Party George it’s inevitable.

Dan is a major talent and a superb singer. The quality of his songwriting is evident for all to see. As is his permanent grin throughout the gig.

Latest addition to the band is Scott Milsom on double bass. He’s slid into the Lister fold nicely. Flinging his instrument around as if it’s nothing. Have you felt the weight of those things!? Along with Thom Mills on drums they are a rhythm section to match any. Finally stage right is guitarist Sam Brace. He manages to join in the madness whilst never missing a lick and still remaining the epitome of cool. It’s a gift. (Great shirt too).

I saw Skinny Lister play the same room 2 years ago to somewhere between 30 – 40 people. It was a great gig. The band still delivering their high powered set and the crowd still managed to polish the flagon off. To see them now playing to a sell out crowd, all there for a singalong party was, well, emotional. I have to confess to shedding a tear. By the time the flagon reached me this time it was empty. Why is the rum always gone? Didn’t stop me holding it aloft as the band delivered the greatest singalong song ever in John Kanaka.

We get a 23 song set spread out over the three albums. Five off Forge, eight from Deptford Broadway and nine from The Devil. We even get a brand new song with Thing Like That as Dan gets political for a change. I spoke to him after the gig. “I don’t want to be Billy Bragg but certain events you just can’t ignore”.

They kick off with Wanted, the opening track from The Devil, The Heart & The Fight and it was none stop for the rest of the night. Often the band are drowned out by the raucous Sheffield crowd. Skinny Lister don’t mind. More than any band I’ve seen Skinny Lister make sure that we’re all part of the gig. It’s a night of mutual wild abandonment. The only other act I’ve seen come close to this is stablemate Frank Turner.

It’s hard to pick out highlights in fact I’m not gonna try. It was 90 minutes of bliss. Special mention for show closer Six Whiskies though. It’s a perfect ending. I’m wrapped in a mass hug with people I’ve never met before, all word perfect and wonderfully out of tune. It was a drunken singalong without the drunk bit. That’s how Skinny Lister make you feel.

If you love live music you have to see Skinny Lister. I can’t put it any more simply than that.


Set List


George’s Glass

Tragedy In A Minor



Geordie Lad

Devil in Me


Thing Like That

What Can I Say


Bold as Brass

John Kanaka

Rollin’ Over

Trouble on Oxford Street

Seventeen Summers

Fair Winds & Following Seas

This Is War

Bonny Away

Forty Pound Wedding


Beat It From the Chest

Hamburg Drunk

Six Whiskies


Simon Saynor

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