Truly Olympian

I’ve never been to a gig before that was as good as this but which left me feeling a little sadder.

So far in 2018 this was the best show I’ve seen and I doubt I’ll see better in the next six months either.

There may well be more musically proficient performances, stronger back catalogues on display and more impressive stage productions but nothing to match the raw thrill of this full-on demonstration of what heart, soul, commitment and killer hooks can bring to the party.

Singer Richard Jobson said that on getting back together the Skids didn’t want to be part of the nostalgia trail and recorded a well received album to back it up – other bands take notes (cough Stone Roses cough).

They included two new songs in this set and neither felt out of place even if they didn’t have the familiarity of the classic post-punk and new wave hits the band is famous for.

Jobson looked fit and well with his idiosyncratic dance moves still very much in evidence, and he was joined on stage by founding member Bill Simpson and Big Country’s Bruce Watson in a five-piece band that did justice to their enduring legacy.

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Mid-set he paid tribute to their truly great former guitarist Stuart Adamson who died in 2001 – and that’s where the story takes a turn towards the melancholy.

I had a great friend, Duncan, who loved the Skids. He also loved everything the band members did following the Skids. I went with him to see Big Country’s first Liverpool show which was also watched by members of U2 who I always thought owed Adamson and the Skids a huge debt – something borne out when The Edge delivered the eulogy at Adamson’s funeral.

Duncan and I were the only two in our year at school who travelled in from Runcorn. We also played for the same junior football team. We loved the same bands. We listened to the same records.

But while we were at school Duncan got ill and was ill for the next 20 or so years. Remarkably, he dealt with it incredibly well. His sense of humour never left him nor did his love of music.

With quite unfortunate timing the news of Stuart Adamson’s death came through when Duncan was slowly slipping away too at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. We talked but I didn’t tell him about his guitar hero’s demise.

He had their great anthem Into the Valley played at his funeral and I can’t think of anything else when I hear it.

He’d have loved this reunion and I went, partly, because of that fact. Gill was on one side of me at the barrier at the front and I wish Duncan had been on the other.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Truly Olympian

  1. I never saw Skids, despite having a lot of their records. I even have some of Jobson’s later folky version of Skids. I just didn’t know anybody who liked them at that time. Nor did I see Big Country either, come to that. I just missed any interaction with Stuart Adamson entirely, which saddens me now because he seemed such a sweet man. This is a lovely, heartfelt piece though, and especially for having a mate like Duncan along for the ride.

    1. I think they’re often unfairly overlooked from that period. The songs stand up incredibly well. I remember us making plans to see them in Manchester back in the day and it never happening.

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