Words & Pics: Vikki Luff
Brixton Academy has welcomed all sorts of music throughout the years, from regular radio fodder to heavy metal and everything in between. On this occasion, it was packed to the rafters with people waiting for a dose of rifftastic reggae rock. It’s easy to say that some bands draw in crowds of all ages, but this is undeniably true for Skindred. People who were evidently around from the very start of their musical career joined with those who certainly weren’t even born then to welcome the Welsh foursome to London after two excellent support acts.
It’s arguable that support bands have a much harder job than the main act at large shows. To get a crowd of nearly 5000 people involved and invested in your performance is hard enough, but when most of them haven’t heard any of your music? That’s a new challenge entirely, one which Danko Jones rose to with no small amount of enthusiasm. As the audience filtered in, they were greeted with the crowd pleasing I Gotta Rock; and they certainly did! With their unrelenting pace and dauntless energy, Danko Jones had near every fist raised and pumping the air by the end of the set, leaving the stage after My Little RnR to far more than just a polite cheer.
After a small break, the lights went out and chants of “CKY! CKY!” slowly grew louder and filled the air. For a band that arguably peaked between 15 and 20 years ago, it was clear to see that they still had a good few hard-core fans in the crowd who were happy to sing along to every word the trio were belting out. The rest of the crowd who were familiar with CKY, myself included, were waiting for one song to angrily headbang along to and I’m very pleased to say that 96 Quite Bitter Beings is every bit as good live as you would expect. I feel like the crowd didn’t give this as much of a reaction as it deserved, but given the fact that the song is coming up to two decades old I suppose this is forgivable. Despite this, CKY make an incredible amount of noise and do a very good job at filling a stage built to accommodate far more than three people.
As the time grew closer for Skindred themselves to make an appearance, you could feel a change of energy in the air as it almost crackled with anticipation. Known for not always doing things by the book, Skindred bounced onto stage with an interesting remix of Star Wars’ Imperial March. With all the presence of Darth Vader himself, Benji Webbe leapt into the spotlight and started with the title track of their new album, Big Tings. For an album that had only been out for a couple of days, the crowd certainly were aware of it and happy to participate. The band continued with a personal favourite of mine, Stand For Something, and a selection of older songs. Skindred’s new material is undeniably catchy, but it was clear to see where the loyalty of the fans came from as the floor erupted into various mosh pits and roars strong enough to drown out Webbe’s own vocals.
Each time I see Skindred, I marvel at their level of crowd interaction. If you’re not moving, you feel as if they will come into the crowd and physically make you have a damn good time, and this show was no different. The crowd was split to sing along to new single, That’s My Jam, and (with a bit of effort) it felt as if every voice in the room took up their part and made it quite a special thing to witness. The best reaction from the crowd was somehow not to a song from Skindred themselves. Midway through an old hit, Kill The Power, the song seamlessly blended into The Prodigy’s Outer Space and it felt as if someone had set off an explosion in the centre of the floor. The entire crowd roared for more as the band left the stage and they certainly did not disappoint with their encore. Given that this year marks the ten year anniversary of their well-received album, Roots Rock Riot, it was surprising that no tracks made it onto the setlist. This was all explained as their stage backdrop fell away to reveal a giant banner of the album cover as the band launched into the title track of the album. If Skindred shows are famous for one thing and one thing only, it’s the Newport Helicopter. “What’s that?”, I hear you ask. Well, if you can picture an entire sea of people holding their shirts above their heads and violently swinging them on command for the final song of the show, Warning, you have a pretty good idea of it.
If the thought of doing that doesn’t suddenly fill you with a burning desire to see this band, then I’m not sure what will, but I wouldn’t put it past them to drag you along to a show and entertain you until you can’t help but enjoy yourself. If I were you, I’d save them the effort, do yourself a favour and take yourself down to their next show near you. You will not regret it.
- Big Tings
- Stand for Something
- Sound the Siren
- That’s My Jam
- Saying It Now
- Kill the Power
- Roots Rock Riot
- Rat Race