I am at the Concorde 2 for the much-anticipated return of Skindred to Brighton. The band have patronised Brighton, during their career, and I have seen them at least three times. The crowd has grown over the years, and there is barely room to move in the sold out venue this evening.
An established band, Skindred formed around 18 years ago in Newport with lead singer Benji Webbe. In addition is guitarist Mikey Demus, drummer Arya Goggin and bassist Dan Pugsley. What has always been clear, at every performance, is that they love performing. Tonight is no exception. They are the kind of band who light a fuse under the crowd and expect a party, not just moshing and not even just dancing.
Skindred are there to help the audience experience their music and bring an inclusive ethos. This effort of involving the crowd and accepting everyone belies their experimental genre. What I mean by this is they play music that makes me happy. They sample heavy metal classics, and snippets of tunes I remember listening to on pirate radio, many years ago. As a result it is kind of a jubilant musical mash-up. They are a self-proclaimed Ragga metal band. When you hear them, you know it’s them – they sound distinctive, fierce and catchy as hell.
Supporting Skindred tonight are: Sun Arcana and Feed the Rhino. First up, Sun Arcana. They put on a good show and were really very excited to be playing to the Skindred crowd. They reminded me of a 90’s Australian band, Silverchair. Their blonde unassuming vocalist had an epic voice. Next up were Feed the Rhino, again a band I’ve seen several times, and a clever billing as vocalist James Colley is an absolutely ace at getting the crowd going. The audience might have got more involved (and have done in the past), though perhaps this is because there was a mixed crowd, the vast appeal of Skindred’s music means lots of folk don’t expect to mosh – maybe.
Finally, the venue packed to capacity, with just enough room to see the stage and close enough to spill your beer on a stranger, Benji Webbe emerged to roars from the crowd. They had just played Queen, I’d sung my heart out and I was suitably warmed up. Before long, the band had the crowd jumping and we all had our arms in the air. Webbe was dressed flamboyantly, glittery trousers and sequinned scarf, brandishing the Union Jack, tied to his mic stand.
As well as taking us through some of the classics, including Warning and Pressure and newer songs including Fight the Power they also interspersed clips from classic heavy tunes. Webbe took time out to tell us about a personal loss, urging us all not to leave it until it’s too late. He was genuine in his appeal, also in telling us we were all family now as we have something in common.
Audience participation was encouraged, no mandated, as the night progressed. Webbe prepped everyone for the Newport helicopter. You’ll just have to go to a show to find out what that is. Later, he asked everyone to get down low, and had us all jump up as the chords for the next song began. Webbe told us we were the best. I believe him. The Brighton crowd was 100% involved, totally energised and responsive to the band.
See you again Skindred.
Skindred continue their tour, full details of their remaining dates can be found on their website