• Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

His masterpiece? Skydaddy at Sneaky Pete’s

ByMagnus Crawshaw

Mar 2, 2024
Musicians with a cello, flute, violin, piano and guitar on stage with microphones

A professional Black Country, New Road support act. A pretentious Radiohead hater with string and brass sections to accompany. Like Coldplay, but with lucrative South London connections. These are the slanders levelled against one of the most-tipped rising stars in the UK right now, whom I was lucky enough to catch at Sneaky Pete’s very recently. While Skydaddy, born Rachid Amado Fakhr, may not yet justify the hype with his anthemic take on artsy chamber pop and folk, his level of vision and songwriting made his live performance a gripping and sometimes spellbinding revue of classic pop and folk influences.

Introduced to a national audience by his it-girl partner Tyler Cryde of Black Country, New Road, who he joined on tour in 2023 before releasing any music, Skydaddy has made the most of his romantic connections, performing the song ‘Tear Gas’ as the penultimate song in his concise setlist, which opened his new EP, Pilot. Despite the supplementary star power on the song, ‘Tear Gas’ perhaps best demonstrates why Skydaddy rubs some audiences up the wrong way. A lewd, rude sex anthem (“no more passive aggression, only lustful transgressions”), the track’s stripped-down Leonard Cohen-esque accompaniment does nothing to hide the sickly sentimental lyrics, which, without the help of Tyler on stage, feel like a verbose, minor violation.

On the flip side, Skydaddy’s artistic potential was on full display during the mesmerising rendition of ‘Lebanon Rising,’ which bookended Side A of the show. Easily overlooked as an instrumental interlude on the EP, in its live form, the song becomes a transcendent taste of Skydaddy’s pristine style and musicianship. ‘Lebanon Rising’ was introduced as an ode to Lebanon, in light of the devastating explosion that took place in Beirut in August 2020. A sincere moment in what otherwise felt like a casual jam between obscenely talented friends, the performance highlighted the effortlessly classy feel of Skydaddy’s string section. On the surface, a simple, meditative instrumental, the song seemed to take on a greater power.

Performing unashamedly ‘soft’ music, Skydaddy himself makes no claim to being a rockstar. On stage, he cuts a down-to-earth, endearing figure, dripped out in blue martial arts attire and donning a stylishly idiosyncratic red hat. Despite the sincerity of their music, the band, on the first night of the tour, evoked an at-ease energy, personified by their dandyish cellist, sporting a silver suit, a frosted and tipped trim, and Y2K-approved Oakleys. Having had the pleasure of meeting Skydaddy himself while he hawked branded lighters that illuminated Cowgate following the show, I can say that his somewhat bookish persona is much the same off-stage.

The show ended with the rousing ‘That Morning,’ which Skydaddy claims (jokingly?) is inspired by Randy Newman but features an enormous, climactic chorus, packed with hooks that stayed with me long after I left the venue. As with the other tracks, it was superbly mixed by Anna Trost of Puppyteeth fame, who’s mixing perfectly emulated the lush production of the EP. While Skydaddy is still climbing the mountain towards his artistic peak, the sheer tastefulness and creative power of Skydaddy’s inspired showcase mean great things are no doubt to come for the songwriter.

Skydaddy’s debut EP, Pilot,’ was released on February 2, 2024, under Bathtime Sounds.

Photograph by Magnus Crawshaw