After a trek down to London in wet and windy weather, my excitement couldn’t be dampened for this evening. The last time I saw Skillet was in Spokane over the summer, and I’m sure they just keep getting better. With this show having sold out months ago, it was no surprise the massive queues of dedicated fans who had been out in the cold for hours.
The opening band of the night, Devour the Day from Tennessee, received a massive cheer when they took the stage. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get warmed up and by the time lead singer Blake Allison asked them “Are you ready for a rock show?!” the answer was definitely yes. The third song of the set, “Faithless”, one of the singles from their latest album Signals, had the audience moving and nodding along.
About half-way through the set, Allison asked “Do you guys know Nirvana?”. They then played a very good cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which had tons of phones raised ready to record. The final song they played was ironically the band’s first single, “Good Man” with very powerful lyrics.
Throughout the entire set, drummer Ronnie Farris was showing off some impressive skills with his sticks, constantly spinning and throwing them with both hands, but he never missed a beat. Although I didn’t notice many people singing along, there was a lot of heads moving and I am going to assume that after their performance and the crowd’s reaction to the entire set, that Devour the Day have a lot of new fans.
A loud cheer erupted when I was moving places in the venue which got my hopes up that it was time for Skillet to take the stage… Nope, it was just the banner being changed! This was one excited crowd. Now, I thought that we had travelled a fair distance to see Skillet, however the was a Scottish flag being waved by one attendee throughout the set.
As soon as the lights dimmed, essentially every phone was raised ready to record the opening song, “Feel Invincible”. The energy just exploded both on stage and in the audience and this didn’t falter until the lights came back on at the end of the night. During “You Ain’t Ready” lead singer and bass player John Cooper had CO2 cannons attached to his arms, firing smoke over the crowd for the first half of the song.
Throughout “Whispers in the Dark”, Cooper didn’t even need to be singing as the bouncing throng was covering the vocals so loudly. Five songs in, they finally had a breather and engaged with the audience. Cooper’s statement “You people are hurting my ears! This used to be what America sounds like. In other words, America used to rock, but you guys rock a lot harder!” received a huge cheer. When I saw them in America earlier in the year, I thought that the vibe was incredible, but it was nothing compared to this show. Slowing the pace down a little, “Lions” off the 2016 album Unleashed, showed just how versatile the band really are. Drummer and vocalist Jen Ledger joined Cooper at the front to sing the intro to “Awake and Alive”.
Cooper made some fans even happier stating that “We are coming back next year. I think there’s a lesson to be learned here. We need to come back, not just to London but to more cities” and it helped that their manager was there to see how excited everyone was at that announcement. I have to mention Ledger’s drum solo… That woman is extremely talented. This was followed by “Save me”, the second single from their new album Victorious. I’m sure tonight was very special for Ledger as a lot of her family were at the gig and it was her birthday only a few days ago. The band spent the day before the show exploring London’s Winter Wonderland, and Cooper teased about not being able to get any full sugar drinks. Being allergic to sweeteners, I feel his pain! He joked “I don’t care if I get diabetes… I need that sugar! It should be my decision”.
It was Cooper’s turn to film the crowd during the intro to “Comatose” and after the song posed for a photo before one of the band’s biggest songs “Monster”. Finishing the main set with “Rebirthing”, John Cooper took the opportunity mid-song to kiss wife and guitarist Cory Cooper. When the band left the stage there were instant chants of “We want more!”. They returned for one final song, “The Resistance”, a powerful track that kind of sums up the evening with the line “heavy as a hurricane, louder than a freight train”.
This was an amazing performance from Skillet, and I can’t wait to see them back in the UK next year.
Pics by Jack Barker Photography