Thursday night. The night after the middle of the week, and the night before the end of the working week, the night before the weekend comes to take us away from the world of work. It’s an awkward night, and it isn’t often that you’d find anyone outside of the region of ‘student’ out on a Thursday, and yet on this cryogenically cold Thursday evening, Northampton’s Roadmender is stacked to the rafters, its 800-capacity being pushed to the limit with locals lumbering in from the cold, filling out every single crack the main room could possibly have before support act and homecoming kings Raging Speedhorn can even make their way to the stage. Of course, regardless of this being a hometown show for the sludge-metal veterans, the locals gathered in their masses tonight are here for one band, and one band only, the mighty ragga-rock renegades Skindred.
Warming up a crowd warped by the want for one band is always an uphill struggle, however Raging Speedhorn tackled the woeful waiting game headfirst, vocalists John Loughlin and Frank Regan throwing themselves across the stage as if they were competing against each other on a highly competitive game of Just Dance on speed. Blasting through a set that whips up the sardine-like room into circular pits of mosh-heavy goodness, Raging Speedhorn prove that the county of Northamptonshire has a band to be proud of, however their sludge begrudgingly loses its pace towards the end of their set, their delayed exit droning on and on as the numbers filter out to the bar one by one.
[contentblock id=141 img=adsense.png]
With beers restocked, and the 800-capacity room once again filled in, tightened tighter than anything could ever be tightened, as if every single member of the crowd was a sardine in a tin, the wait for the Newport massive Skindred is impalpable, their warm-up playlist causing mass sing-alongs of Slipknot, Queen, and ultimately, AC/DC classics before the lights go low and the all-too-familiar sounds of the infamous Star Wars Imperial March theme plays out, as each member of the quintet enters the stage one-by-one.
Opening with the fist-pumping call-to-arms Under Attack, the lead-off single from their latest album Sound The Siren is the scene-setter for an evening filled with mosh-pits, mad-dancing, and the sight of 800 people jumping up and down, waving like the queen, and bowing to the leader of the pack, vocalist Benji Webbe.
Whilst the evening has been labelled as the ‘Sound The Siren’ tour, the setlist sets it off as more of a retrospective, playing a what’s what of the Skindred catalogue from the old-school groove-monster Pressure to the mosh-inducing Ninja.
Benji Webbe is a powerful man, possessing the ability to call upon the crowd and have every single one of them act out his every wish, whether it is to wave like the queen, dance furiously, or simply sit in silence as he sings his heart out to a thought-provoking tear-jerking acoustic rendition of Saying It Now, which he explains is written about his friend who died of Cancer, which ultimately kicks off a haunting minute-long “Fuck Cancer” chant from the crowd, as if it is one symbiotic echo.
Whether it’s the way Benji leads the crowd through a series of Justin Bieber hating chants whilst DJ Dan Sturgess blasts the chart-topper’s number-one hit Sorry across the room ironically or the moment the whole band make the rest of the crowd stand as still as statues whilst they make one idle member of the crowd jump his way out of an embarrassing call-out or the way that guitarist Mikey Demus slays each and every riff with such delicate form that the complicated ragga-rock mix comes off as an effortless attempt, Skindred leave you wondering why they aren’t playing arenas across the UK on live performances alone.
Closing out the main set with a nuclear-war sized double-attack of Kill The Power and Nobody, they arrive back on stage to slay the crowd once more with their ultimate anthem, Warning. Throwing out the rule book, they force everyone to the ground, sitting patiently before having them explode into a sweaty mess of jumping, moshing, and dancing as they kick off a ferocious rendition of the aforementioned Warning. If the song wasn’t wild enough, Skindred initiate the Newport Helicopter to end the night: imagine 800 people jumping up and down spinning their shirts round and round. Oh yeah, Skindred have proven once and again that they are the epitome of madness.