A wet dreary Sunday night with the promise of a long week at work was brightened up by the presence of SKIES, all the way from Kent, with a seven-song set that felt more appropriate for a big festival stage than it did a dark Manchester basement.
SKIES must be one of the hardest working bands around, whether it be their constant online presence or their willingness to jump in the van at short notice to play a gig anywhere and everywhere. Watching them on stage though, it becomes clear why. They come alive the minute Jericho taps the drum pedal and they launch into a song, each one so infectious that those not there to watch them are drawn out of their seats to get a bit closer to them. The Retro basement might not be full, but it doesn't matter, SKIES are playing a set like they're headlining the biggest festival field.
They already have a formidable set of singles to their name with three EPs chock full of them and another three recent singles to boot. That means there's a lot left out when most bands at this level are scrabbling around for covers or scratching around to fill a set. SKIES have no such problems.
Their modus operandi is quite simple. Alie on guitar and vocals, Jericho on drums and judicious use of backing tracks are a formula that work across all these seven songs they play - yet, and this is why they deserve more than where they are - it never sounds the same as they manage to take songs in a different direction each time.
The set is split almost down the middle - the last three singles Heroine, It's Not The End Of The World and Give Up sit nestled amongst fan favourites It's Alright, Hold On, Give Up and a set-closing Green that has everyone in the room arms raised above their head in union singing along to the chorus of "what is wrong with being alone anyway", a sad lyric that's turned round in celebration. It's something that SKIES do so well, music as a cure for whatever ills are plaguing you or simply, like tonight, a way of putting a smile on a tired face at the end of a long weekend. SKIES deserve much more than their current status; they write great songs that you'll struggle to shake once you've heard them, they're enormous fun live and it's impossible not to like them as people too.
SKIES played Heroine, It's Alright, It's Not The End Of The World, Hold On, Give Up, Born Yesterday and Green.