This was clearly more than just a gig; it was a celebration of being Ukrainian. S.K.A.Y were given a great reception at 229 The Venue when they took to the stage and the audience lapped up their show not only for the songs, which clearly meant a lot to them. It was also for the opportunity to come together and literally fly the flag of Ukraine: there was a lot of national unity going on both onstage and off.
The band, led by Oleh Sobchuk on lead vocals and occasional semi-acoustic guitar, took the stage early at 7.40 and played for two hours, delighting the partisan crowd. They’re a pop-rock band, no more no less, with regular verse-chorus songs – no extended solos, no dry-ice and no elaborate light-show. Before a crowd two hundred strong, they managed to pack twenty-three tracks into their set, the sound quality excellent throughout. There wasn’t a word of English from the stage all night but the friendly lady on the T- shirt stall was helpful with her translations – stressing that the songs were sung in Ukrainian, not Russian.
Some songs were simple love songs with titles like ‘ I Like You’ and ‘Give Me Your Love’ while things clearly got more political as the show neared its end – with no fewer than five encores. The penultimate song ‘Ukraine’ saw many fans invited onto the stage with two Ukrainian flags held to the fore, while the final song was the Ukrainian national anthem – ‘Glory to Ukraine’ – sung acapella with all the audience, which had suddenly swelled, singing along. There was a lot of dancing from the start, even pogoing, and a lot of call and response between the band and the audience.
The band were formed in Ternopil in western Ukraine in 2001, produced their first album in 2006 and have since added three more with the most recent ‘Kray neba’ coming in 2014. The lead vocals were powerful and emotive while the others contributed to the backing vocals. They all played very well and with little excess, with lead guitarist Oleksandr Hryushchuk only occasionally slipping into rock-god, open-mouthed guitar-solo mode. The keyboards added lots of texture and it would have been nice to hear a solo or two from Yuri Mozil, their player. The band varied the set well with most of the numbers being more upbeat but with a good mixture of slower, more gentle songs – and they certainly knew how to finish on a high.
S-K-A-Y’s concert at 229 the venue was an event supported by the Ukrainian Embassy, London. Many of the band’s songs are available on iTunes. You can find out more information on S.K.A.Y by clicking on the image below.