The Keys & Zombina and the Skeletones @ Sheffield University Union (05/03/04)

Wow! What a night and all for £3.50. You simply can't shake a stick at that kind of bargain entertainment.

I'd been to the venue before but never to see a band there and as it happens, I think it's a great venue. There is a large stage and plenty of room to pack the audience in, whilst simultaneously allowing for punters to get right up to the band.

There was a support band but I didn't catch their name (possibly 'The Koreans'?) who were a sort of cross between the Happy Mondays and Blind Melon (at least, I thought so anyway). The singer had one of those funny machines where you wave your hand in front of it in different directions and it makes strange noises. Useful. He also spat on the stage in between lines. I couldn't work out if this was cool or repulsive. Oh well. The guitarist who had a Kurt Cobain-ish air about him was fairly competent I thought and helped out with the vocals from time to time. There was also a drummer and bassist and occasional keyboard player.

During one song, 2 drunken students got up on the stage and danced foolishly. I think it was possibly one of their birthdays and I got the impression they were friends of the band (or maybe that was just the bonding power of alcohol?)

Zombina & The Skeletones were up next. I'd never heard their stuff before but was significantly intrigued. They did not disappoint. Zombina and her band were all made up like zombies (including skeleton outfits and white face paint). Zombina herself who hails from Liverpool I believe had a skeletal claw glove on one hand and a perfectly inscribed dribble of blood coming out of the corner of her mouth and trickling down her chin. The music was poppy and accessible. The skeletones consisted of a female drummer, two guitarists and a bass player although there was some instrument swapping going on. I was amazed when towards the end of their set, they put all the instruments down and did some 6-part accapello number!!

All in all, I loved them. I can't believe they aren't better known with their infectious pop and their awe-inspiring make-up

Next up were the evening's headliners, The Keys who seemed to be fronted by John Lennon!!

Yes, the singer bore an uncanny resemblance to the late Beatle. The venue was really filling up as The Keys began their set. They were pretty slick and tight but they gave little away and I came away knowing that it was those cheeky skeletones who would stay in the forefront of my evening's memories.

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