REVIEW: Skinny Living @ The Hope and Ruin, 17/03/2019

The Verse’s Charley Gale reviews Skinny Living’s gig at The Hope and Ruin on 17th March 2019.

I had never been to the Hope and Ruin for a gig before, so was pleasantly surprised by the space provided. It is quite small, which made for a very intimate setting. My first thought was that it would be great for people who haven’t been to many gigs, as it is a lot less chaotic. The entire night, the vibe was very relaxed, which I also found was perfect for smaller, up and coming musicians. It gave the audience a chance to truly connect with the people on stage, and focus on their music rather than their surroundings.

Supporting Skinny Living on their UK tour was James Gillespie. It was safe to say he definitely contributed to the atmosphere with his husky, soulful voice and laid back demeanour. To introduce each song, Gillespie would include a funny or interesting anecdote about how he celebrated reaching each listener milestone on his most popular song What You Do, or what it was like covering a Pink song and getting to sing a duet with her on stage the year before. It made the audience feel very connected to him and his story and made me a fan of his straight away. He belted out each song with such raw emotion that you could feel the energy in the room. It is evident that Gillespie is a born performer, and it won’t be long until he is touring with supporting acts of his own.

With the room being so small, Skinny Living (Ryan Johnston, Danny Hepworth, Will Booth and Rhys Anderton) walked through the crowd to get to the stage to the sound of loud, excited cheers. They started their set with one of their most well-known songs, Let Me In. As soon as the first chords rang out, everyone joined in enthusiastically. Irish lead singer, Johnston, smiled and welcomed the crowd. He has the ability to draw in the crowd by hitting each note with ease in a smooth, melodic voice.

As one of their newer songs, Strawberry Jam, was performed, it was evident of the band’s close bond. Ryan would playfully interact with Danny, Rhys and Will, who would respond in kind. Each member’s evident passion to be playing to an audience only added to their playful nature. This created a very positive environment for everyone. Rhys’ happiness lit up the stage, I don’t think his infectious smile ever left as he drummed along to their songs.

When another crowd favourite, Why, begun you could hear a pin drop. All eyes were on Ryan as he sang in a sweet falsetto, listening intently to the powerful lyrics of past struggles. When it came to the chorus, he encouraged the crowd to sing. It felt as though everyone was afraid to disturb the intimate vibe when everyone sang along quietly. Their song I Still Love You had a very similar, reverent atmosphere. In Simply Sorry, Danny’s incredible guitar skills outdid the entire performance. Everyone was left enthralled by his talent.

As Ryan introduced the next song, he gave us some back story to the lyrical meaning. He explained how it was about growing apart from the people you love, which he told us was inspired by his little sister whom he was very close to. After this speech, the audience felt very connected to Ryan and the song resonated with many. Messiah’s slow, sweet tune then made for a very poignant performance.

When announcing their last song, everyone was disappointed as we didn’t want the night to end. And yet, as they sang No Low, we were very satisfied with such an incredible performance. This song is one of my favourites as Ryan and Will’s voices melt together perfectly, creating such beautiful harmony. This song made for an ideal ending to such an amazing night.

This UK tour is now over. However, this Irish/Wakefield group have already announced a new tour in September. For tickets and more information please visit their website: https://skinnylivinguk.com/

Charley Gale

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