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Saturday, 5 May 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Skindred (Live Review By Paul)

Skindred, Brixton Academy

Whilst some in the metal community view the hybrid ragga metal of Newport’s finest with disdain, the band remain a tour de force in the live arena. A packed Brixton Academy roared their approval through the whole of this three-band show.

I’d heard bits and pieces of Canadian trio Danko Jones (7) but had never caught the band live before. Their typical humour and no-nonsense heads down rock n roll was ideal, their opening 35 minutes greeted warmly by the swelling crowd. Front man Danko Jones is a ball of energy, riffing it up whilst his band mates John 'JC' Calabrese (bass guitar) and Rich Knox (drums) provided able support.

I must admit that CKY (6) has never caught my attention. Sure, I was aware of their presence, but the skateboarding Jackass Margera connection was always unlikely to get me interested. A fuzzy sound didn’t help matters but that didn’t bother most of the Academy who were totally engaged with the Pennsylvanian outfit. Mixing older material with a couple of tracks of their latest release, 2017’s The Phoenix, the three-piece bludgeoned their way through 40 minutes, concluding with a ferocious cover of GG Allin’s Bite It You Scum. Plenty of enthusiasm, but little that I saw will have me rushing to explore their catalogue.

I’ve seen Skindred (9) on numerous occasions, probably around 14-15 times, and witnessed the band evolve from small club venues to dominant main stage festival performances. Nowadays the band have a swagger that deservedly comes from all those years of honing their live performance and they commanded the stage at Brixton with ease. Benji Webbe plays the ringmaster perfectly, cajoling and encouraging whilst always showing a humility which acknowledges the band’s roots. A 75 minute-set was spot on, with a liberal sprinkling of new songs from the decent Big Tings mixed with tracks from their previous releases. The new material was impressive live, with That’s My Jam and Machine particularly striking. The return of Roots Rock Riot, 10 years since it was released was welcomed by the older fans, and the laughter and joy around the venue as the band closed out with the ‘Newport Helicopter’ during Warning never gets tired. How they will ever drop it is beyond me. Skindred's live show remains a thing of beauty. They are consummate performers who have earned their success.

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