Tonight is Skinny Puppy’s first London performance in 7 years, it is the first date of a short European tour called ‘Down the Sociopath Too Euro 2017‘. Formed in Vancouver, Canada in 1982, the core duo of cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre originally conceived Skinny Puppy as an experimental dark electro-pop project. They are widely acknowledged as pioneers of electro-industrial rock and were a formative influence on artists such as Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and many more.
Support act Ventenner [3.0/5.0] who are a local act, start the evening with a mix of an industrial metal. There are definately a lot of people here to see them and they go down well with the crowd. Their sound is a mix of Stabbing Westward with a pinch of NIN, they did sound heavier live than on record. My only criticism is that some of their songs never seemed to get going, in the sense that I wanted them to have more of a punch. However they put on a good show and are getting ready to support Revolting Cocks in August and KMFDM and Cold in Berlin.
I wait with anticipation for Skinny Puppy [5.0/5.0], who I have never had the pleasure of seeing live before. From research I have gathered that they have always played an eclectic set, and to expect an amazing stage performance. With no idea of what will transpire this evening as it is the first show of the tour, I wait for the lights to go down. ‘Jahya’ starts and guitarist Matthew Setzer (only recently seen in the UK as part of KANGA) appears on stage with a face mask of mesh covering his features. A small spot light positioned on his head, leads his way to the front of the stage.
As Ogre walks on to the stage wearing a horned helmet and cape, he sways around whilst awaiting another creature to grace the stage. A tall furred legged creature with red glowing eyes a gas mask works with Ogre, removing his cape and horns. Revealing Ogre to be wearing a white body suit, which almost reminded me of a straight jacket. The gas masked creature began attaching syringes with what looked like blood in them; the fun had just got started.
‘Dogshit’ and ‘Fascist Jock Itch’ get the evenings festivities started with a great energy, the sound is great and stage show never better. Whilst Ogre continues to sing and walk the stage, he begins to pull the syringes out of his bodysuit and spray blood like liquid everywhere. I got covered in some for good measure taking photographs, I do enjoy a theatrical performance. As he continues injecting the liquid into/over his bodysuit, Ogre almost starts to resemble a blood covered mummy.
The set is full of classic Skinny Puppy tracks and some surprises, but all in all the song roster is strong and well thought out. With five songs from the album ‘Process’ including ‘Crucible’ and ‘Hardset Head’, most of tonight’s songs are completely familiar and nothing is from their later albums. As Ogre tantalises the crowd with tune after tune, we are greeted with the classic ‘Worlock’ followed by ‘Killing Game’. This gets the crowded fully involved singing along for the first time, as up until now they have been so mesmerized by the visuals and sound.
Our gas masked friend continues to help, this time after spending some time pacing the stage. He starts attaching syringes with uv reactive liquid, which requires a joint bit of team work between themselves. Theatrical elements of the show; the smoke, lighting and the projection (showing a variety of psychedelic patterns) all morph seamlessly. The sampling is all perfectly timed by Key, who is almost hidden behind his desk up high. However this doesn’t reduce the chemistry that the band show, as they put on an intense and energetic performance tonight. From Ogre’s relentless artistic movements, Setzer singing at the crowd as he plays his guitar and drummer Justin Bennett blasting out some heavy beats at the back.
‘Assimilate’ commences with a mighty roar from the crowd, as Ogre’s squirts more uv liquid over himself. His once white outfit is covered in red and uv yellow liquid. He jumps while singing the chorus and the crowd love it! This hour long set is over, it went too fast but it was amazing. As we watch them leave the stage a sense jubilation comes from the crowd, as they chant for them to come back.
After a quick costume change for Ogre, who is now in a vest and trousers. The intro to ‘VX Gas Attack’ begins, one of their most political songs. Which was very fitting given the current events going on in the world; Skinny Puppy have always been known for their political songs. The final song of the night is ‘Candle’ which was surprising heavy live, it finishes the evening off beautifully. Whilst Setzer rips out the last chords of the song, Ogre walks around the stage thanking the crowd methodically. I am humbled by the amazing show I have witnessed, it was stunning and totally engaging in every way. I hope they don’t take so long to come back again!