As the release of Skindred’s 7th studio album Big Tings draws near, the kings (and pioneers) of reggae metal celebrate in spectacular fashion with a packed out show at the notorious Manchester Academy. Skindred are no strangers to the live circuit; after breaking onto the scene with their debut album Babylon in 2002, the band have since reached huge heights consistently earning main stage slots at major festivals such as Rock AM Ring & Download. Tonight is very much a celebration of their achievements with a career spanning setlist showcasing the best of all 7 studio albums. As the lights go down and AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ begins to play, the atmosphere inside the venue is simply electric.
After a remix of Star Wars’ ‘Imperial March’, the band arrive on stage to the titular track of new album Big Tings. As ever, lead singer Benji Webbe proves to be one of the most captivating frontmen I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Flamboyant, cool, yet still madly eccentric; the show he puts on is nothing short of spectacular. Vocally too his talent is made apparent, ranging from gorgeous light reggae inspired hooks to harsh hostile growls. Even if you weren’t the biggest fan of rock music there is talent to be admired here for sure.
As the fan favourite tracks (‘Pressure’, ‘Kill the Power’, ‘Nobody’) begin to emerge, the crowd begin to get more and more lost within the music. Benji continues to command the crowd with new single ‘That’s My Jam’ taking centre stage for a mass orchestrated singalong. The pit in the middle is rough too, I myself spot a couple of people being carried out after taking a hit too hard. As ever at a rock gig everyone is wonderful however; the second anyone falls down they’re immediately picked back up.
The band then return to the stage for the encore and announce that the penultimate portion of the set is to be dedicated to their second album Roots Rock Riot, in honour of it’s 10 year anniversary. Songs such as ‘Trouble’ and ‘RatRace’ are understandably fantastically received.
The night concludes in typical Skindred fashion as the 1000+ attendees take part in the classic ‘Newport Helicopter’. T Shirts are swung in the air, the crowd bounce, the atmosphere in the venue is immense. A perfect end to yet another fanatically chaotic performance from the Welsh veterans.By Mike Gardner