JD and Coke, heavy metal and Marshall and Skindred on a Friday night. Some things just work and damn that last one works. In fact, Skindred on any day of the week gets the thumbs up, but with the joy of knowing that there’s no work tomorrow and you can sleep away the repercussions of the party, well that’s just lovely.
The job of kicking off that party falls to Edinburgh’s own Perpetua, who already have a sizable crowd by the time they hit the stage. That home turf advantage plays to their favour, and they get a great reaction from the crowd. This is modern metal from the Machine Head and Trivium school of thought, and the choruses are as big as the riffs are heavy. All things said they do a cracking job of getting folk ready for what is to come.
Raging Speedhorn are one of those bands that I’ve heard a million things about but never given my time to. On this showing, I am a fool. It takes the crowd a while to warm up, but when Dan Cook (standing in for Frank Regan who is sitting this tour out on doctor’s orders) climbs on the shoulders of the biggest guy in the pit, it seems to flick a switch in the audience’s mind. They get better and better as the set goes on and by the end this is carnage. Time for me to get my act together.
In ten/twenty years, we will all look back at Skindred and ask why the hell they weren’t the biggest band on the planet. I know that’s not a new opinion but fuck me, these guys should be massive. They have everything, and it doesn’t matter whether you are seeing them in a field with thousands or a club with hundreds, no one can touch them live.
Benji is of course front and centre. Clad in his sparkling gold jacket, he is the circus leader who keeps the crowd in the palm of his hand. Whether he’s calling them cunts or leading them in the now iconic Newport Helicopter, he is the perfect mixture of charm and fire. Is there a better frontman in the world? If there is, I haven’t seen them.
So it’s the songs then, yeah? If they’re that good live, it has to be a lack of songs that sets them back. Not fucking likely. Whether it is new songs, they open with ‘Under Attack’ from Volume, or old, these tracks are massive. ‘Doom Riff’, ‘Ninja’ and ‘Kill The Power’, dropping those on an enthusiastic crowd is like chucking a hunk of meat into the dog house. Chaos from start to finish. Even when they slow things down with the emotional ‘Saying It Now’ the room is hung on every word as Benji gives it his all.
Skindred are the perfect band. They have everything, and it’s never happened for them. They’ve hit this level (and the Liquid Rooms is sold out) but never managed to get past it. Why is that? Fuck knows. It defies reason. However, for those of us that are smart enough to be there we are getting to watch something truly special and if there’s any justice their day in the sun will come eventually.