Football Casuals ? Baggy Throwbacks ? Britpop Revivalists ? Call them what you will, York’s Skylights are rapidly gaining a following amongst Leeds United’s faithful and music enthusiasts alike. They may not be “now” and they may not be “original” but these lads have some banging tunes, all of which would have easily earnt their place on a 90s Anthem Compilation.
The band cite The Music, Shed Seven, Bridewell Taxis, Oasis and The Verve as influences. I’ll forgive them The Verve’s monotonous drone (we can’t agree on everything) but the other bands’ impact is plain to see and hear, from The Music’s swirling guitar work, Shed Seven’s anthems, Bridewell Taxis’ baggy/dance sensibility to singer Rob’s Gallagher swagger.
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This story is far from a rapid rise to fame. In their early incarnation, the band wrote a handful of songs and gigged around York for a few years to a very muted reception, if they got any sort of reception at all. Disillusioned with the response, they packed it in and lost interest in music. All avid Leeds United fans, “home and away” became the order of the day. Fast forward 10 years or so, now in their mid-30s with families, they decided to give it another go. “We just thought we’d see what could happen” guitarist, Turnbull said before their first Leeds gig at The Brudenell. “I’d just love to play one big gig because the songs deserve it”.
Singer Rob, having lived in Leeds for a time, has now moved back to York but certainly sees Leeds as his musical and football home “Leeds has the venues and the musical heritage that York lacks.”
Times change. Circumstances change. The band have made social media work for them, engaging with Leeds United, Leeds’ World Boxing Champion Josh Warrington and on a very personal level promoting themselves one to one with both local music fans and Leeds United fans alike. The graft is starting to pay off. Initially, no promoters in Leeds gave them the time of day so they promoted their first two gigs in Leeds themselves, even stumping up the cost to make their first show at The Brudenell free entry to build interest. Next stop was a social media frenzy, which ended up selling out the 300 capacity Belgrave Music Hall. Two gigs in, and the band start getting calls from promoters. Turnbull laughs “Amazing that we did ourselves, what nobody in the business thought was possible. Futuresound (promoters) then came on board and have been fantastic from the start – maybe still not anticipating the band’s support to sell out tonight’s 400 capacity Wardrobe, they also booked us to support Manchester’s Twisted Wheel at the same venue. Hopefully they can now take us to the next level.”
Unsurprisingly, the band come on to an intro of the Leeds United anthem, “Marching On Together” and then launch into “Brittania”. Closely followed by new tracks “Lifeline” and “Dags”, a chant of “Leeds Leeds Leeds” starts up from the crowd. A soaring “Nothing Left To Say” keeps the momentum going. Fuelled by the crowd’s reaction, there’s now as much smiling as swagger on stage. “Take Me Somewhere” and “What You Are” follow.
The band’s own Leeds Anthem, “YRA” is up next. This is the one track that really kick-started Skylights’ renaissance.
Cue more football chanting of “All Leeds Aren’t We” from the crowd.
Closer “Reverb Nation” leaves both band and crowd on a high with the crowd singing the band off stage with their own version of “Marching On Together” – intro and outro. Part gig, part football, part Leeds but it’s the music that stands out. Whichever way you look at it, this was a gig to remember and I’m sure the band’s dream of playing one big gig, will be a bigger one than this.
After the gig I asked singer, Rob and guitarist, Turnbull for their reactions to the show and what lies ahead. Rob … “What a night ! Unbelievable, fanatical following. Place was bouncing. And then Josh Warrington pops in to support us. Unreal. Thank you so much everyone. Never give up on your dreams because one day, you never know, they might just happen.” Turnbull … “Big thanks to everyone who came out, it was without doubt the best night so far in this mad story. What next ? Who knows, we’ll just keep living the dream as long as it lasts.”
Vocals – Rob Scarisbrick
Guitar – Turnbull Smith
Bassist – Jonny Scarisbrick
Drums – Myles Soley