Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Live Gig reporter Myglobalmind Webzine
Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, alongside the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise, which is the album that sees them touring the UK in support of at the moment.
Given the strong US sales, the band are afforded the luxury of playing many of the larger venues in the States, whereas the UK dates, the band’s first headlining tour, sees them in slightly more humble surroundings at the O2 Academy in Islington. The queue around the block however suggests that a venue twice the size would have been in order as the number of people and touts looking for tickets is huge.
Once everyone has entered the venue, the floor and balcony are packed front to back in time for rising UK bans LTNT (Lieutenant) to take to the stage.
Ben Clarke, Neil Hunt and Liam Lever the three members of alt rock power trio LTNT are getting some good support slots at the moment and clearly are a band on the way up. Their 30-40 minute set is delivered amongst moody lighting (the amount of dry ice \ fog on stage makes it difficult to see Liam at times) and an excellent stage presence. The three of them make the most of the stage space afforded to them with Neil Hunt’s drum kit planted between his band mates.
The set itself is full of modern alt rock numbers and appeals to the youngish audience in the venue tonight. LTNT are managing to establish themselves rapidly in the modern rock scene and the show in front of a packed house does them many favours. In turn, the audience shows appreciation after every number making their job as the opening act of the night far less difficult. The band’s most well known track ‘Body Blood‘ gets the best response from the crowd and it is probably their most instantly accessible track from their debut E.P. ‘Dao‘ and rightly gets a place in the set.
The young three piece will have gained a few new followers tonight and are certainly destined to go far.
Give It A Name
No Aquarius By Will
The Sleeper Wakes
Wear It Well
Liam Lever : Lead Vocals / Guitar
Neil Hunt : Drums
Ben Clarke : Bass
Skillet have never headlined in London before so tonight’s show is something a little bit special. There is a clear air of anticipation from the already hot crowd who are packed in to every corner of the venue.
Instead of the usual intro tape followed by the band bursting onto the stage, we are instead graced with an amazing intro courtesy of Jonathan Chu on violin and Tate Olsen on cello who build up a wonderful intro to ‘Whispers in the Dark‘. Their make up and gothic attire along with consummate musicianship provide an interesting edge to the live music Skillet play tonight and they return for several other tracks throughout the night.
As John Cooper and the band come onto the stage, there is a roar from the crowd and the energy level in the Academy go up another notch. All of the classics are played including tracks off latest album ‘Rise‘ which saw the band co-writing on many of the tracks with outside artists. The uplifting title song and also the first single “Sick of it” with written with Scott Stevens, founder/leader of the L.A.-based Exies, and both get a great reception from the crowd.
Cooper has been quoted as saying that “Rise is the story of a typical American teen coming into adulthood and facing the massive world problems. Facing world problems as an adult is different from when you’re growing up and under someone else’s care. All of a sudden, you realize that the world is a dangerous place. It’s dark and scary, there’s acts of God happening, there’s war, there are all these terrible things, and you thinking, ‘How can I have hope in this place?’
This consideration with youth is no more noticable than when John pauses to talk about the number of letters the band receive from troubled teenagers who find themselves in a bad place, often are self harming or worse and need to be able to reach out to someone who might understand and offer guidance. It’s no secret as to where John places his faith and he takes a moment to give thanks and confirm where his strength and support comes from before continuing the show. If there was a fear that that show might become preachy, rest assured it does not. The message is very much about providing support for those that need it and the fans respond almost as a community in their appreciation for the words coming from the stage.
As the show continues, Korey and Seth trade centre spots on the stage to show off some amazing guitar work and not wanting to sit in the shadows or be outdone by her band mates, Jen Ledger also takes time out from behind the drum kit to sing lead vocal and duet with John on a couple of songs as well.
The audience are in fine voice as well and sing back most tunes note for note when promoted by John. ‘Better Than Drugs’ sees the band almost vying with the crowd for the spotlight, such is the volume of the choir singing back to the four people on stage. Needless to say this continues, especially when the band play perhaps their most famous track to date, ‘Monster’ which closes the main set.
Chu and Olsen return for some sublime orchestral work before the band return for final song ‘Rebirthing’. A great way to finish a show and judging by the smiles on the faces of band and audience alike a triumphant debut headline show for the band as well. Don’t be surprised to see Skillet headlining a venue 3-4 times the size of the Academy within the next 12 months.
John Cooper, lead vocals, bass
Korey Cooper, guitar, keyboards, vocals
Seth Morrison, lead guitar
Jen Ledger – drums, vocals
Whispers in the Dark (Cello + Violin Intro)
Sick of It
Not Gonna Die
Awake and Alive
The Last Night
Yours to Hold
Better Than Drugs