The Punk Vault

Skinny Puppy – 11/14/23 at House of Blues

Tuesday was the second night of Skinny Puppy’s three night farewell to Chicago and place was packed to the rafters. People showed up early and the club was overflowing with people before Lead Into Gold took the stage and there was even more excitement in the air this night than the night before.

Lead Into Gold started off the night as usual, and they delivered the same wonderful set that they did the first night. Paul Barker and his musical cohort (who largely played keyboards) have really gelled nicely as a live unit. The songs packed a punch, the low end rumbled your guts, and the songs sounded as good as ever. It’s still a total head scratcher why they never play “Hatred’, it is the best Lead Into Gold song ever! “Faster Than Light” is a nice consolation prize though, and always gets the crowd smiling and dancing. It’s pretty great to see Paul Barker carrying on the Lead Into Gold project and taking it to new heights.

Skinny Puppy took the stage and it seemed pretty impossible to squeeze one more person into that venue. If you had to move, say to go to the bar for a drink or use the bathroom, it was quite an undertaking trying to get through the sea of people all packed in there like sardines staring at the stage. No one wanted to miss a moment of the performance and you can’t blame them, it is something really special.

The details of the stage show and setlist are covered in the day one article on this site so I won’t repeat it. The theatrics are closely tied to the songs, so the main setlist never changes, only the encore songs vary. Those people who were coming to this show hoping for the blood and guts stage show of the past were in for a surprise as this tour’s stage show is something completely different. Skinny Puppy isn’t a band like Kiss, who do the same stage show with the same exact theatrics year after year and barely even mix up the setlist. Not to take anything away from Kiss, their show is great, but no two Skinny Puppy tours have even been alike in terms of the stage shows, and this is no different. The band have evolved as people, have gotten older, and are in different places in life than they were in the old days, and they are also creative people that like to try different things. The stage show for this tour focuses more on the supernatural than horror, and the visuals are very interesting. Anyone thinking that it “wasn’t a real Skinny Puppy show because there was no blood” was really doing themselves a disservice by being so closed minded.

Ogre really has come to his own as a character actor over the years and this alien character really showcases it. He really nailed conveying emotion, and invoking sympathy in how he sold the punishment the alien was receiving which is not easy to do when you are in a costume such as this. During this performance you almost forget that it is Ogre up there in the alien costume. It is an alien, and he just so happens to have the same voice as Nivek Ogre and knows all the lyrics to Skinny Puppy songs. If it was possible to top the vocal and theatrical performance of the night before, Ogre somehow found a way to do just that. The band played flawlessly once again, and you could see this band play this show every night and never get tired of it, or stop wanting to see and hear it again!

After the band finished the main set and the alien was taken off stage, the band returned for an encore after a short break. Tonight’s encore featured four songs and two of them were unique to this night. They opened with “Film”, which they hadn’t played live since 1986! That was a real treat, and then they followed it up with “Smothered Hope”! They finished with the “Assimilate”/”Candle” duo once again and left the crowd in awe of what they just experienced. It was once again another amazing performance, and makes having to come to the realization that there won’t be any more Skinny Puppy shows after this tour a very sad reality, but something that everyone in the audience was appreciate for the fact they could be there to say goodbye and thank you for 40 years of life changing music.


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