Live Review! James Skelly & The Intenders @ Dingwalls

Thursday 13th June 2013 | Alex


I wish James Skelly wouldn’t wear that hat. He’s nothing new, or that’s what everyone keeps saying, but if everyone else is something new (and the stubbornness of moombahcore music says they are) then some nostalgia is, if a bit unexploratory, welcome.

They’re not just a rubbish Coral. ‘Do it Again’ was played early on, it’s that boogieing, bluesy single and I needn’t have feared it’d be pathetic. They’re visibly happy to be doing something different and as James chirped in he flaunted that trademark, mischievous smirk he does when he knows he’s nailing it. I could never bring myself to say 'He's a bit of a character!' but if I could, I would. It almost felt like he wasn’t taking it too seriously.

New album ‘Love Undercover’ is James doing his own thing, he’s taken charge of the song writing but can’t quite tame the poppy folk-reggae he’s ended up with and if he was hoping the retro bucket hat would say otherwise, it didn't. Now and again there was some Mississippi-throat-moaning but for the most part his voice wasn't enough - he let down a cover of Ray Charles’ ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’, the punch is always going to be a bit different but it's got to be equivalent. They're not cool enough to bask in their own bluesyness B.B King style, but they should be wary of ramping it up. On-stage meltdowns are bogus and James' frenzied skuttling wasn't rock n' roll but hyperactive and meditative, a squirrel at a Rainbow Rhythms meet. They need to find a middle - it can be uber rocking without being uber rocking.

For an hour and a bit they played some new stuff, some Coral stuff and some 50s stuff. The Intenders (James and Ian, Paul Duffy, Nick Power and The Sundowners) had Camden’s coolest crevice radiating musical optimism. They’ll probably never be able to drag La Bamba slicks and beach rock to where they want them but they’re loveable enough - it’s fun watching them try.


‘Love Undercover’ was out June 3rd, check out ‘Do it Again’ below and read our interview with James here.



Written by Alex Dean - @AlexDean94