Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM
Setting off to Rock City again, this time I’ve my Son onboard. He happens to be a huge Skindred fan so it’s great that he’s coming along for the show. Having not seen him since December 2020 it’s a Dad and Lad night out.
Cruising through Nottingham it’s obvious that the traffic is busier than earlier in the day, we are trying to get to Rock City for doors opening as there’s three bands on tonight and an early curfew of 10pm.
We get there and race to the box office to get in, the queue is still backed up around the corner, thankfully being a reviewer has some privileges. We get to the box office for there to be a bit of confusion with the group in front of us.
Confusion over and we’re in, the merch is queued back to the bottom of the stairs to the main room. We get in to the main room just in time for the first band to come on stage, Camera out and its straight in the pit. My lad makes his way to a vacant spot to watch the first band.
The Howling Tides are a hard-hitting heavy rock band from the Midlands. Fronted by Rob Baynes who makes a decent job of grinding out a chunky riff while delivering a great vocal. He’s backed my Herbie Herbert on drums who spends most of the night trying to reseat his glasses as they slide down his nose, buddy I feel your pain. On Pink tiger striped bass, we have Adam, standing along side Rob, he thumps out a cracking bassline, hard hitting and tight. On stage right we have Hayden, looking like the band have fallen out with him, his les Paul, slung low he rips the hell out of the set.
A dynamic band, full of energy they rip up the small space that they have on the stage, there performance is refreshing as it doesn’t conform to the NWOCR genre that is currently the flavour of Planet Rock. Its unfortunately helped along by Frank Regan from Raging Speed Horn unleashing a fire extinguisher into the crowd from the stage. A sign of things to come maybe?
Sadly, it’s a very short set, but the gathering crowd have enjoyed, Rock City is sold out so it’s going to get even hotter and stickier than normal.
Set List: Thalia: Cut Your Losses: Blue Moon: 12/8: He Told Me: Crack My Soul
Raging Speedhorn are up next, this Metal band hailing from Corby have been doing the rounds for a number of years, there style of Metal has been described as ‘NU’, and my favourite ‘Sludge-Metal’ what’s with these genres? Having 2 vocalists, Frank Regan, and Daniel Cook, we have a double assault on the aural senses. Cook spends little time on the security barrier, preferring to be in the crowd’s face as he screams out and gets the crowd properly worked up, Frank walks around the stage swinging his microphone around his head as he goes.
Grinding out a face ripping set of thudding bass and distorted guitars, they delight and play with the crowd, James Palmer on guitar sits on the barrier as he rips a searing solo as the security look on.
They’re ready for it tonight, its’ in the air what with the previous antics, and thankfully they are as, sadly, during ‘Voodoo Man’ Frank tumbles backwards off the stage, cracking the side of his head as he goes down. He’s out cold on the floor as the security come racing in.
They stop proceedings as they try to sort Frank out. He eventually gets up, clutches his now grazed side of his head, climbs back on the stage and carries on, he grabs a cymbal off the kit and wanders around with it on his head briefly. He’s got a good wobble on but insists on continuing. A Paramedic is now present. A good job really as he’s now slinging his mic around again, getting tangled and receives another thump on the back of the head
The band carry on valiantly with Frank, shakily, wandering around the stage, his vocal is slurred so this can only end in one way, 20 minutes early the band call it, he’s in no condition to carry on so the band do the decent thing as Frank sits down and stays down, and call the set to a close amidst boo’s from the crowd. Get well soon buddy, concussion can be a bugger.
Set List: Hand of God: Voodoo Man: Motorhead: The Gush: Spitfire: Hard to Kill: Scrapin: Doom Machine: Hate Song: Brutality
Skindred, what can be said about Benji and the boys that hasn’t already been said? They bring the party Vibe to every venue or festival that they appear at. With their distinctive walk on music filling the venue the capacity crowd erupt. AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ first followed by Star Wars, Imperial March brings the band on stage, as usual Benji hangs back ready to make his big entrance.
And on his comes, full of swagger and confidence. The big man is in the house, clad in a studded, red leather jacket, trade mark sunglasses hiding his piercing eyes and feathered top hat perched on his dreds. He stands there and absorbs the atmosphere which has gone nuclear. He grabs his Union Black flag from his mic stand and walks around the stage posing with it just so you know. The band are revving up in the background, dirty guitar riffing away over the pre-programmed backing track as it sonically smashes you squarely on the chin.
We get started straight into ‘Stand for Something’ with its gutsy drum beat and riffing guitar over a pitch changing backing track, Benji growls the lyric as he screams ‘if you want something fight for it’. The track soars while Benji gets his step count up. Playing to the crowd and the cameras, he paces through this opener. High energy is always the game when this band hit the stage, the crowd are already bouncing and cheering as this song concludes and we are into ‘Rat Race’ with its more traditional Reggae style lyric delivery over a very metal backline, again this has the trade mark programming intertwined throughout. Some bands this can sound cheesy doing this, something that you could never say about Skindred.
‘Sound the Siren’ is next, classic Skindred from the album, ’Volume’, a repetitive hook drives this tune as it grinds through its course. The crowds, ‘horns’ in the air, are bouncing as the heads are flailing, sweat is flying, its thermo nuclear in the heat stakes, having to remove the old specs as they have steamed up completely. We’re only three songs in and we see the roof leave the building, If only it’s like a sauna. Some how with all his charging about Benji has lost his hat, Now, with his Dreds pulled over his face he is bouncing around, the sweat is running down his face in torrents, who says being one of the best front men on the circuit isn’t hard work. The effort that Benji has put into his wellbeing is evident as he doesn’t drop a beat or miss a curse aimed at whipping up the crowd.
Bookended on either side of the stage we have Mikey Demus on guitar, Hat and beard. Cool as a cucumber he knocks out each riff, hand flying up and down the neck of his Manson guitar (gotta be a good guitar with that name). Striking the pose, he is tight, the sun glasses hiding his eyes as he goes about delivering the business. On the opposite side is the Bass master, Daniel Goggin, again cool as, hipster hair up in a topknot, only he’s cool looking, his headless bass thundering away as he ties in with Arya Goggin on the drums. This guy has the hardest job, he gets to watch Benji’s behind as he dances across the stage as he bangs out beat after beat, his timing is on point as he locks in with Daniel and the programmed sound effects.
‘Doom Riff’ follows and then we have ‘Pressure’ with its Back in Black mix thrown in. This has been a staple of many a Skindred set and it’s a great addition. The crowd know it and join in as the band play a great cover of this well know AC/DC tune and then we’re back into pressure to finish.
‘That’s My Jam’ is next and I have to admit that this song has grown on me partly down to the ‘hi-hat stabs that are the backbone of the songs chorus. With its siren start and a more melodic intro, the vocal is less chaotic and more controlled, not saying that anything is uncontrolled about Benji’s delivery, that is until we get to the middle 8 and this see’s the dirty Rasta Patois smash out and we have traditional Skindred again.
‘Ninja’ sees Benji going through some hi-karate aftershave moves, as Arja is ringing out on the bell of the ride as this song starts off, heavy, dirty and solid, Arja’s drumming is stunning as he grasps the beat and plays with it, he’s clearly having fun and making it look way to easy, his smile is infectious. The programming for the song is spot on again wrapping around the tune as Benji asks for hands in the air in his own imitable style of foul language without it being wrong, if that makes sense?
The intro to Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ cuts through the air and as it does so the crowd start bouncing with renewed vigour, and we are into that classic ‘Jump Around’ this comes complete with the crowd singing back to the band, programmed snippets dart back and forth as it goes forward, a great tune and a possible nod to Mr Van Halen who has since left us, far too early. ‘Kill the Power’ is up next This has him getting the crowd to chant the title after he shouts it out. Mikey is sliding and grinding the guitar as this warms up, flicking the pickup selector to get the phasing sound we have Benji bouncing low and dirty the Patois is strong in this one as the crowd chant back kill the power on command, with its whoas and bouncing vibe the crowd are bouncing, sweat is flying everywhere, the venue is dripping with condensation, not something that I’ve seen happen to many times in the past.
For the next song Benji tells us all to shut up and listen to this next song. And what a song, he tells everyone to think of someone who we’ve lost, someone who has gone far to early. He asks the crowd to please listen to the words of this song. It’s a stunning acoustic guitar accompanied by Mikey. The crowd, for the majority listen to this gem from off the ‘Big Tings’ it’s a powerful tune, that listening to it I recall the backstory he gave to it at STEELHOUSE. Without a doubt my song of the set and the night, as I fight the sweat stinging my eyes, Benji it’s a beautiful song, sung from the heart.
Set closer and it’s back to the old Skindred and ‘Nobody’. This ‘banger’ has the crowd singing back again ‘nobody, nobody gets out alive’. The band are in full swing as the horns are flying and the crowd bouncing, Edinburgh has been in touch to say it’s a good night as its registering on their sensitive recording gear!
They leave the stage and instantly the crowd are cheering for more, it takes a minute or two until they start chanting the ‘One more song’, my son is drenched, he has fully embraced the experience and he’s off joining in the chanting as the crowd call for more.
They come back on the stage, Benji has changed, he is now dressed in a Freddie Mercury yellow top, beneath it he has a White shirt has UNITY painted across the back. He announces that this is the last song, curfew is fast approaching so its straight into that wild party pleaser ‘Warning’ complete with Benji telling the crowd to get down. Tee-shirts have been removed already in preparation for this epic tune. As Benji screams warning the crowd are bouncing tee-shirts are being spun above their heads as the lights flash and strobe going as nuts as the crowd go wild. Benji does his best to control the antics but goes with the flow as Rock City shudders with the seismic vibration, as the crowd shows this band the respect!
And it’s over, with a thank you and good night, the obligatory pose for the photo, doors are opened and the welcome draft is overwhelming, ‘Nobody Does it Better’ rings out as the crowd chant Skindred over and over.
What a night it’s been for dad and his lad. He’s thoroughly enjoyed it as we walk out dripping, his tour tee shirt looped in his belt as he’s melting. He’s sung along to almost every song, but bounced to everyone. This is a band that is huge amongst the students when he was at Uni and it’s been great to see him enjoy it all.
It’s had its moments with Raging Speed Horn, but then that’s all part of the experience
We’ve had a girl on stage stuffing her face with a sandwich trying to win a flight on Concorde to see Slipknot next Saturday, she got a tee-shirt for her efforts, oh and a sandwich.
Benji is the tonic that post pandemic live music goers need. He’s as good as any vaccination at putting a smile on your face. The band deliver a high voltage set of entertaining Nu-Reggae driven hard rock.
If you haven’t seen Skindred Live you haven’t lived, make it so!
Set List: Stand for Something: Rat Race: Sound the Siren: Doom Riff: Pressure/Back in Black: That’s My Jam: Jump/Jump Around: Kill the Power: Saying it Now (acoustic): Nobody: ENCORE: Warning