Ian Skelly & Serpent Power, The Sundowners: The Zanzibar, Liverpool

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Ian Skelly reunites with his Coral collective and other guests to perform a memorable showcase at the Zanzibar, Getintothis’ Sean Bradbury soaks up the swell.


Just dancing round my room to Ian Skelly wishing I still grew magic mushrooms. See you there.
That was one way to prepare for the gig. For Getintothis it was a quick dart straight from work to catch the start of The Sundowners‘ set.
It is easy to see and hear why the buzz surrounding them is growing louder all the time. The Zanzibar is a sell-out and already rammed, with heads craning from the back of the room to catch a glimpse.
The band are effortlessly tight, jangling guitars and the duel vocals of Fiona Skelly and Niamh Rowe weaving West Coast harmonies over the top of infectious bass and drums.
Their range spans a light, Fleetwood Mac touch via driving Tom Petty rhythms to heavier, Black Keys moments. A fine formula and sure to be the sound of the Scouse summer.
When Ian Skelly takes to the stage its as if The Coral have played musical chairs with The Dead Velvets.
The drummer is now frontman, lead playing is in the capable hands of Danny Murphy, Paul Duffy is on bass, James Skelly is at the back under his hat of hair and Phill Murphy is behind the kit.
Everyone is certainly in the right place as the music is magical.
The songs swell and breathe, lush Fleet Foxes layered harmonies suddenly bursting into full-blooded fretwork from Danny Murphy in one forceful exhalation – most evident on It’s Only Love.
Firebird, perhaps the catchiest number of the night and the closest to a Coral tune, drips with delicious wah-wah and mournful melodies.
Paper Sky is built on a haunting guitar line, searching vocals delivered with the occasional Bunnymen snarl hanging somewhere above in the ether.
I Call Her Name comes differently from the Cut From A Star version; here a beguiling, hypnotic stomp in the mould of Kurt Vile‘s Alright.
The band round the night off with a supernatural shuffle, delivering their take on The ByrdsMr Spaceman.
While they are harking back with many of their influences, there is a timelessness to Skelly and his Serpent Power that is sure to echo into the future.

Photography by Getintothis’ John Johnson.

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