Reggae metallers Skindred have not really been anywhere near ‘huge’ on the alternative music scene, though they’ve always had a presence strong enough to be recognised when mentioned. With a tour of many sold out dates across the UK, maybe even further recognition and acknowledgement is heading their way fast. Deserved considering the trouble the band have faced in the past with labels and such.
A progressive and experimental ambient rock approach from openers Karnivool (***) set things to a slow start, and not really the kind of band or genre to really set on a crowd that needs warming up. Along with this, frontman Ian Kenny seems a little spaced-out; possibly drunk or under the influence of something else, or just as easily just the way he is. His stumbling upon stage amps and slow movements across the stage still don’t appear to dampen his vocals, and combined with the tight slick set of the other members manages to keep intact a half-decent performance.
Dead By April (***) set things a little more hyper and heavy. Imported all the way from Sweden, the 5-piece offering of melodic metal on such a small stage keeps the band’s expected potential contained and restricted. Regardless, the co-vocals efforts from angelic Pontus Hjelm and verging upon demonic Jimmie Strimell compliment one another like strawberries and cream. Songs like ‘In My Arms’ and ‘Losing You’ are sung straight back to the Swedish group from all parts of the room, and though some efforts to involve the whole crowd miss the target, Dead By April set a mark in the Stoke crowd.
The volume dials turns all the way to eleven for the main attraction. Skindred‘s (*****) performance borders upon almost flawless on almost all marks; energetic, interactive, loud, exciting, and even little dashes of comedic banter here and there. Leading off with latest single ‘Stand For Something’, the eager crowd explodes into a sea of most pits and sweaty bodies, which through tracks ‘Rude Boy For Life’ and ‘Electric Avenue’ only accumulates to bigger and higher numbers. Frontman Benji Webbe‘s humourous comments between songs and stopping songs seconds in to get the crowd more hyped before restarting it shows a fantastic charisma, and does the job intended more than well enough. When the band return for an encore of ‘Trouble’, bodies go everywhere like shrapnel, rapidly climbing higher amounts of crowd surfers, and buckets of sweat across the entire room who are almost literally feeding off the energy the band have. Closer ‘Cause Ah Riot’ does pretty much what it says in the title, and leaves Skindred definitely in a place where they’ve got what it takes to take things even further. Just you wait and see.
Written by Zach Redrup