It’s a peculiarly busy night in Brighton tonight and it’s always fun to spot gig-goers wandering round a few hours prior to the show. Skindred fans however blend immaculately into the general populous which reflects a consistent theme of unity and togetherness that Benji emphasises throughout the evening. After coming out of my interview with drummer Arya Goggin it is immediately apparent that Skindred are one of those bands that everyone can get into, men and women alike. They just have that charm… or perhaps Benji is just a hit with the ladies. Despite limited reception early on in the event, tonight there is a real party atmosphere. It’s about to go down.
Ambling on stage first are Sun Arcana, a bunch of young rock startups with an air of naivety as they approach their positions. Nevertheless they plug in and a wall of sound comes forth. They have a very palatable sound reminiscent of a cross between BFMV’s vocals and sometimes airy, sometimes tight guitar work – although it’s a shame they suffer from a touch of sound issues. Throughout the set their sheer uninhibited enthusiasm shines through unlike the other bands.
Nearing the end they proclaim, “This is the biggest fucking thing we’ve ever done, we normally play to 10 people!”. They are an absolute inspiration to smaller bands for this very reason. Although there is a limited response this early in the night there is total respect to them from the audience and at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how they did because they loved it. That much was clear and I do feel it rubbed off on the audience to an extent. It is a very digestible sound and I’m intrigued to see how far it will go because they certainly have that ability.
After some time passes, “We are Feed The fucking Rhino!” rings out as vocalist Lee Tobin emerges with madness in his eyes. The music hasn’t even begun and he’s already standing with the crowd as a statement of intent. Proceeding with their raucous performance they bleed energy, exuding it with every movement although there is a feeling that the crowd was not ready for such a dramatic change of pace.
When they call for a wall of death, it goes all the way back to the doors but it fails to crunch as hard as they hope, only the front third involve themselves while the rest stand there awkwardly parted. It’s unfortunate that tonight their performance does not seem to connect to the party vibe that the audience have. As a stand alone show they would have blown it away, however the half-hearted reception is undeniable. This is in no way Rhinos’ fault though, rather the circumstances. Perhaps in frustration, cymbals fly everywhere upon the closure of their final song which proves very popular. A most fun way to go out.
Prior to Skindred’s arrival, AC/DC, The Ramones, Queen and Thin Lizzy blare out. Walking out to a revamped “The Imperial March” (Darth Vader’s song), it could only be Skindred. Jumping straight into “Under Attack” shows the strength of the new album Volume as drummer Arya stated in our interview earlier. The crowd belts out the chorus and the band look bloody pleased with themselves, Benji as ever commands the stage but on this cycle there’s an increased sense of it with him wailing “You can’t cut me down to size”.
It’s at this point in the evening that the party really begins although Benji still picks up on the “lacklustre” and combats it with more crowd interaction than I think I’ve ever seen before. This evening is filled with great quotes from the Welsh metal band, “When Skindred come to town, there is no religion, no colours, just people loving life. Now keep those peace signs up, you wankers!”
The second half of the show begins with a heartfelt speech to Benji’s friend who recently passed away from cancer. “Saying It Now” is dedicated to them which loses some people nearer the back but connects totally to those in reach. “Kill The Power” is another live favourite and with “Nobody” the set is closed, or so we thought.
Returning with a partial cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, the crowd is ecstatic. The long awaited Newport Helicopter (the shirt thing) appears on show closer “Warning” which is always just great to watch.
A relatively short set of 12 songs (not including a brief snippet of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”) is perhaps the only downside to this otherwise successful show. Skindred have always been masters of the live show and they have not let us down tonight.
Photos by Gavin Lowrey (note – pics are from the Edinburgh date, so feature Raging Speedhorn instead of Feed the Rhino)