Posts Tagged ‘Salvation’

25th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Skylights have been making waves of late, especially locally. But then, the question of local success is, to what extent can it translate regionally, nationally, and beyond? Recently, there has been significant coverage of the band playing a brace of major shows (two due to such high demand for the first) at a large-capacity venue – in a village on the edge of York. Now, I applaud their DIY ethic, the fact they’ve sorted these Easter weekend shows themselves and sold them without press or PR or label backing. Recent years and moths have really shown just how far bands can go independently, with Benefits in particular really owning independence to the point that they’re selling out bigger venues nationally with no backing beyond word of mouth and Steve Albini.

Of course, there’s always an element of luck, but outside of the world of manufactured success, it’s largely down to whether or not what you’re selling has demand, and in Benefits’ case, the demand is there by the spadeful.

Skylights may not be as unique as Benefits, but they’re carving their own niche, and on the evidence of the first single from their debut album, they’ve clearly got game.

‘Outlaw’ packs that mid 80s post-punk Leeds sound with heavy hints of The Rose of Avalanche and Salvation, with a big dose of The Cult thrown into the mix. ‘Outlaw’ isn’t exactly a ‘She Sellls Sanctuary’ life, but the guitar break definitely takes some cues from the Bradford band’s major smash. If Editors and Interpol and White Lies spearheaded a new wave revival around the turn of the millennium, the latest crop of revivalist acts definitely offer something different.

The production balances pomp and haziness, the defining factors that allude to the ‘big’ sound of the 80s; it’s ultimately an amalgamation of goth, indie, and arena-rock, and some thirty-five plus years on, it’s a sound that seems to be coming back in vogue. Skylights have the sound absolutely nailed, and better still, ‘Outlaw’ says they’ve got the songs to back it. The future is looking bright for Skylights.



Christopher Nosnibor

While the majority of their output belongs to the post-85, second wave of post-punk / indie-goth, both (timewise) and sonically, Salvation’s roots actually go back to the murkier days of when The Sisters of Mercy were a true Leeds band, living in a dingy terrace in LS6 and recording at Kenny Giles’ 8-track studio in Bridlington and running a label not so much on a shoestring, but on zero budget and Letraset.

Salvation’s first ingle, ‘Girlsoul’ was released on Merciful Release in ’83, and was produced by Eldritch, before a parting of the ways not dissimilar from that which befell The March Violets took place, and while their second single, ‘Jessica’s Crime’ was produced by Wayne Hussey in 1984, the mini-album Clash of Dreams which was scheduled for A Merciful Release in 1985 was shelved and only got to see the light of day in 2014.

By then, they had evolved into the more accessible indie-goth sound, which emerged circa 1985-6, and which perhaps not coincidentally corresponded with The Sisters of Mercy’s evolution towards a more commercial sound with the arrival of Wayne Hussey and their signing to WEA and the release of ‘Body and Soul’ and First and Last and Always, before the split that led to the emergence of The Mission.

But their coming together with Hussey early on marked the beginning of a longstanding partnership: in fact, it was in 1990, supporting The Mission at Sheffield City Hall I first encountered Salvation, which would have coincided with the release of their major label debut Sass, which marked something of a more commercially-orientated direction, and would also represent the band’s last new material as the band crashed under the pressures of relentless touring.

Fast-forward to 2020, and the band have emerged from their retirement to tour Europe with The Mission. We Gave You Diamonds… Live at De Casino was recorded Live at De Casino, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium on March 7th 2020 on the final night of a four-date tour supporting The Mission, and it’s a career-spanning showcase of a set that captures salvation on fine form, and Daniel Mass sounds relaxed with his chat between songs.

Only two of the eleven songs ‘(Clearing Out the) Debris’ and ‘Paint it Rose’ are from Sass, and the set is otherwise culled from their independent years, kicking off with ‘The Answer’ from 1986’s ‘Seek’ EP. It’s clearly of that mid-80s vintage, but still sounds fresh and is delivered with an energy that translated through the medium of the live recording, with its thumping bass and flowery guitar flourishes both crisp and clear. ‘Ladyfaithe’ from the same EP, which would subsequently their 1987 debut album Diamonds are Forever is also dropped early.

Mass probably doesn’t need to announce that they’re from Leeds at the start of the set: they sounds like a Leeds band, to the core. They also sound like a band who are having a blast, and the songs are played with precision and power, and they’ve held up well despite the passage of all the years: ‘All and More’ still kicks ass with twisty guitars and a solid bass groove, and reminds us just how strong they were at penning sharp hooks and nagging guitar lines.

They delve right back as far as ‘The Shining’ (a standout and a personal favourite that always gets lodged as an earworm whenever I play it) from their second single as well as the unreleased ‘The October Hour’ from the debut that never was. ‘Payola’ and ‘Pearl Necklace’, the B-sides from their single release of Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ from 1988. Yes, it’s a blast from the past, but this doesn’t have the vibe of a nostalgia trip: Salvation sound like a band reinvigorated and energised and feeling the songs.

And now, as we finally crawl out of the seemingly-eternal suspension of life that was the Covid pandemic, Salvation are once again set to play as support to The Mission – although the handful of dates isn’t quite the crippling schedule of thirty years ago. On the strength of We Gave You Diamonds, it’ll be worth making it down early doors, and with any luck they’ll be booking a few headline shows of their own before long.