LIVE: Skindred @ Academy, Manchester (02/02/2014)

Date: February 2nd, 2014
Venue: Academy, Manchester
Support: Viza / Soil


Few acts come along that can fuse two genres like metal and reggae and actually manage to get away with it, but Skindred have managed to make a pretty solid name for themselves out of it, and not long ago dropped album number five, ‘Kill The Power’. With the album hitting the #28 spot in the UK Album Charts and closing off their headline UK tour with an almost sold out Manchester Academy date, it seems the band’s original brand of ‘ragga metal’ is still heading towards its peak.

Beginning proceedings are Los Angeles experimentalists Viza (***), who may be one of the only rock bands you’ll ever come across who incorporate an oud throughout their material. With frontman K’noup Tomopoulos sporting a rather dashing white blazer and a range of material not sticking to the norms of the genre, Viza come across a somewhat lighter System Of A Down in training.

Hard rockers Soil (***) appear to be a main attraction for a lot of tonight’s crowd too, with the likes of ‘Loaded Gun’ and ‘Hate Song’ getting people jumping and screaming along. Sadly, at several points during their set, frontman Ryan McCombs‘ microphone keeps cutting out, but thankfully this doesn’t hinder the strong momentum. Of course, it’s set closer ‘Halo’ that everyone is waiting for, and the chants of the chorus even overpower the band.

Despite a rather lengthy intro, first playing ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC in full before the band then take to the stage midway through ‘Imperial March’, main attraction Skindred (*****) begin to play before what will be their biggest Manchester show to date. Opening with ‘Rat Race’, the insanity begins from the off, with ‘Cut Dem’, ‘Kill The Power’ and ‘State Of Emergency’ standing as just a few select highlights.

What helps make Skindred such an exciting band to watch is not only in their impressive back-catalogue, but also in the humour and wit of frontman, Benji Webbe. Through ‘Ninja’ he starts performing kung-fu, he incites the crowd to poke fun at live DJ Dan Sturgess for not liking Slipknot or Metallica, and even brings some playful name calling to the crowd when he tries to get them to sing-along to mid-set DJ cuts, even calling out one guy as a prick.

Another mention is needed for live DJ Dan Sturgess, who drops a melody of cuts from the likes of Queen, The Prodigy, Jay-Z, Beastie Boys and House Of Pain. Yep, they somehow came together quite well. What better close of to the evening though then a Manchester Academy full of people swinging their tops around in the air to do the Newport helicopter during ‘Warning’, sparked by Webbe inviting a fan on stage to count the room in. If you didn’t know already, Skindred are one of the best live bands around today. Their power is far from being killed.

Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)