O2 Academy, Bournemouth – 11th September 2021

It’s Saturday night on a balmy evening in Bournemouth as we await the triumphant return of “The King” – the one in question tonight being Elvana (The Band), who has moved up a level since their brilliant live debut some three years ago at the Old Fire Station. Opening for them tonight are a band who themselves are creating quite a buzz in their hometown, Skinny Knowledge. Fronted by the enthusiastic (if rather humble) one Andy L. Smooth, these guys are playing only their fifth gig on their biggest stage to date.

Their last performance only a week ago at the now legendary Barnstomper Festival in Cerne was (for me) a show stealer, could they replicate that performance or go one better to a similar-sized audience? Well quite simply, yes! Skinny Knowledge do a fine line in crossover Rock/Punk; Andy himself has never shied away from wearing his Green Day leanings heavily on his sleeves, but overall they are more steeped in the Rock arena.

What a better way to make an entrance than with opener “Heavy Metal”. Tonight they have a stand-in guitarist in the form of Duncan Petrus but are no less effective. Kristian (drums) thumps a heavy beat nestled at the back, while Andy is chief shapeshifter patrolling every inch of the stage. “Don’t Turn Out the Lights” follows as they hit their stride early doors. “Imagination” is next before early set highlight “Alive”. It’s at this point that the bassist does a disappearing act, only to return claiming “tuning problems”! “Getaway” seems somewhat apt but back to a full quartet they ably continue. The penultimate track “Keep Me Out Of It” ramps up the power before they depart us on “Sayonara”.

Once again Skinny Knowledge deliver, and I’m sure will have made some friends and gained a new army of fans. Andy thanks the crowd, does the big sell and they depart us. Skinny Knowledge – remember the name, these guys are going places!!

Skinny Knowledge
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With tonight’s crowd swelling somewhat as we near 9pm it’s time for the main event. Maybe not a show for the purists, but if you like your entertainment live and musical then you could do a lot worse than parting with £25 to go to an Elvana show. One by one the band members make their entrance. First the Bray Brothers (guitar and drums respectively), then Captain Doom (bass guy) before Elvis and Talk Like Tigers (twin backing vocals & intermission songs) make their entrance. With Covid restrictions somewhat eased people are out to party and be entertained – tonight we get that, and some.

They open with “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter/Burnin’ Love” and set their stall out early. The King is covering every inch of the stage, rabble-rousing this audience into movement. “Serve The Servants” precedes “Scentless Apprentice/Hound Dog” which brings the first of many singalongs. “Rape Me/Love Me Tender” has a twisted poignancy and gets the moshers moving early doors. “Pennyroyal Tea” precedes a somewhat heartfelt “Can’t Help Fallin’ in Love/Heart Shaped Box” – Elvis songs are well represented tonight too.

Elvis leaves the stage for a costume change and we are treated to a set highlight from the Brothers Bray and Bass Guy in the form of “Molly’s Lips”. It is note-perfect and kinda sets the mood for the rest of the show. The King returns to a rousing reception and launches into “Breed/Viva Las Vegas” as the throng down the front start to move. Early crowd favourite “Drain You” is this time paired with ‘Flash’ (Queen), where an entertaining interlude is played out by Bass Guy and The King before returning to continue “Drain You”. This is pure theatre now! What follows is the mash-up of all mash-ups. “A Little Less Conversation” is simply the warm-up to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as this crowd goes wild. We catch our breath with “On A Plain” and “Polly” before the lunacy returns with “Heartbreak Hotel/Lithium” which duly received the singalong it deserves.

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Time for another costume change as the King has split his undercarriage! “Talk Like Tigers” then treat us to Hole’s “Violet”. The King returns and keeps the momentum high with “About a Girl/Now or Never” while “Blew” and “Love Buzz” are simply minor preludes to a truly heartfelt “Negative Creep/You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” which I swear the whole room is singing along to. After nearly two hours they leave us, but depart only briefly before returning for the final glorious act.

“You Know You’re Right” allows us to catch our breath before brilliant closer “The Man Who Sold the World” sung in multiple accents. Cue the second of two huge ticker-tape showerings as the band depart’s for the last time. After two hours of pure, unadulterated entertainment the lights go down.

Elvana is a great live act who have put in the hard yards worldwide and continue to grow as a band. Opinions may well divide the purists but considering we ain’t gonna get a Nirvana reformation anytime soon, this is the closest one will get. A two-hour set, choc-full of pure energy and fun – what’s not to like? And the support weren’t bad either!

Radio Friendly Unit Shifter / Burnin Love
Serve the Servants
Scentless Apprentice / Hound dog
Rape Me / Love Me Tender
Pennyroyal Tea
Can’t Help Fallin’ in Love / Heart Shaped Box
Molly’s Lips
Breed /Viva Las Vegas
Drain you / Flash (Queen)
A Little Less Conversation / Smells Like Teen Spirit
On a Plain
Heartbreak hotel / Lithium

Violet (Talk Like Tigers / (Hole)
Where Did You Sleep Last Night

About a Girl / Now or Never
Love Buzz
Negative Creep / You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling (Righteous Brothers)

You know You’re Right
The Man Who Sold the World (David Bowie)

Skinny Knowledge
Heavy Metal
Don’t Turn Out The Lights
King of Nothing
Keep Me Out Out It



Words by Ross A. Ferrone
Picture & Videos by David Chinery (Chinners)