Even with their unique style, sound, and approach to metal – being the leading and indeed only name in “ragga metal” – Newport’s Skindred have always been after the big tings, and have systematically been grabbing them one-by-one. With seventh album ‘Big Tings’ on the way, they’re leading up to its release with their biggest headline UK tour to date.
Canadian Danko Jones  and his band of merry men bring the hard rock early in Manchester, and though technically proficient, there’s quite a hefty amount of cheese being scooped on the crowd during the set – look no further than ‘Gonna Be A Fight Tonight’ and ‘Sugar Chocolate’. Still, it’s hard to not tap your feet and nod your head to the likes of ‘Full Of Regret’, and if nothing else bassist John ‘JC’ Calabrese‘s enthusiasm with everything is fun to watch.
Coming onto the stage to fans chanting their name, CKY  (that’s short for Camp Kill Yourself, by the way), the part post-grunge and part stoner rock trio have managed to acquire quite a loyal following over the years, even with an 8-year stop gap between their last two records – ‘Carver City’ and ‘The Phoenix’. For the most part, however, it’s a little difficult to connect and immerse in their set, even with Chad I Ginsburg‘s gravel-like voice, though the throwbacks to their breakthrough hits ‘Flesh Into Gear’ and propelling ’96 Quite Bitter Beings’ were built for head banging.
It’s a bit of a long intro, but the back-to-back overture of AC/DC‘s ‘Thunderstruck’ followed by a EDM remixed version of the ‘Imperial March Theme’ from Star Wars means only one thing: your rude boys for life Skindred  are a-coming. They break right into ‘Big Tings’, the titular track from their forthcoming record. It acts as a bit of an odd and disjointed set opener, but thankfully things pick up thick and fast from here on out.
With nearly seven albums under their belt to work with, an accommodating set for all Skindred fans is become more and more difficult to construct, but thankfully the ragga metallers manage to delve into some of the strongest numbers across their discography. After a bit of playful taunting, Benji Webbe manages to rally the room to fist pump to ‘Kill The Power’, fresh single ‘That’s My Jam’ sees him conduct the room in halves to shout out the chorus, ‘Nobody’ is still as monstrous as it was back in 2002, and ‘Selector’ takes it all the way back for the OG fans to the band’s debut record.
Indeed, a big part of Skindred‘s appeal in the live show, along with guitarist Mikey Demus‘ glorious beard, is Webbe‘s showmanship and charisma as a frontman. Donning a studded leather jacket, and at one point some red sunglasses with flair (which he soon says to himself and the crowd “Why the fuck am I wearing these”? before casting them aside), the man is literally born to be onstage. Very few frontmen provide as much comedy, and command a crowd, along with carrying a voice as strong as Webbe, and it’s all part of the Skindred charm.
For the set’s end of ‘Warning’, he orders the entire room to sit down, t-shirts removed and in hand to engage in the band’s now trademark calling card for all of their sets: the Newport Helicopter. The room bursts off its feet, shirts whirling in the air fast and long enough that they could power a major city for a month, and with it Skindred once again secure themselves as one of the UK’s best live bands going.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.