Skindred // HMV Forum // London
7 May 2011
By Chris Fishlock:
Entering the iconic HMV Forum there felt a huge buzz about in anticipation for Skindred, with many of the crowd donning Skindred t-shirts.
This is the last date on the tour, promoting their new album Union Black. After playing many much smaller venues Skindred came to a fairly big venue to finish the tour, and pack the place out, in what is one of their biggest headline shows ever – really showing the dedicated fan base and just how many people want to see a band who are already doing something complete different to anyone else on record.
First band on were pop-punkers Me Vs Hero, who played a short set of heavy and catchy songs, very similar to New Found Glory but with a more heavy vibe – much better sounding than the current crop of pop-punk such as You Me At Six, All Time Low and Set Your Goals, it’s nice that there is at least one promising pop-punk band at the moment. By the end of Me Vs Hero’s short set they also got the crowd moving after getting a human pyramid started. The second support slot came from US metalcore band Chiodos who played a short set of fairly unimaginative screamo songs, but managed to keep the crowd entertained and maintain a mosh pit for their whole set. Many support bands do much worse.
Soon after Chiodos left the stage the main floor of the forum filled up ready for Skindred. Arriving on stage after a full play of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ to help get the crowd in the mood, Skindred took to the stage and opened with first album track ‘Bruises’ – which proves to be a fantastic set opener, throwing the entire crowd into an immediate mosh frenzy, from front right to the back. The band then went straight into fan favourite ‘Roots Rock Riot’ keeping the whole crowd energetic and moving, shouting all the words back to front man Benji Webbe.
The band continued to please the fans with tracks such as ‘Set It Off’ and ‘Rude Boy for Life’, keeping the crowd moshing in the very hot venue. It wasn’t long until the whole crowd was drenched in sweat, with the main mosh pit ending up with being mostly topless guys. The crowd also enjoyed new tracks such as ‘Doom Riff’, ‘Living a Lie’ and ‘Cut Dem’ being played amongst favourite and crowd pleasers such as ‘Trouble’, ‘Selector’ and ‘Calling All Stations’.
Benji Webbe proved to be an excellent front man as he always has been, hyping the crowd up and often standing with authority looking over the crowd; it’s hard to remember that there is a whole talented band on stage behind Webbe’s great stage presence. After keeping the crowd going for the majority of the set, they gave the crowd a rest, playing reggae tracks ‘The Fear’ and ‘Gun Talk’ before jumping back into the heavy ‘Destroy The Dancefloor’ and finishing with old favourite ‘Nobody’ making the crowd reach their craziest.
After a quick break the crowd then returned for an encore, with Benji Webbe in mock Flavor Flav getup, complete with clock. They played ‘Stand For Something’ from their last album ‘Shark Bites and Dog Fights’ before having a Rihanna song ironically play through the sound system, creating what is possibly the only mosh pit to ever happen to a Rihanna song. They then continued with old single ‘Pressure’ and then gave an explosive performance of recent single ‘Warning’, with the sweaty and exhausted crowd giving it their all for the climax of the night.
After being an acclaimed live act for years, Skindred proved that they still have it live, can dominate the bigger venues such as the HMV Forum, and keep the crowd moshing for an entire set. Often known for their great atmosphere at festivals such as Download and Sonisphere, the band really bring this festival atmosphere to their headline show, with charismatic front man Benji Webbe displaying his massive stage presence to help keep the crowd moving. Skindred make some of the most unique music around with their mix of reggae and metal, but when it comes to playing live they really show their greatness – they are a must see live band.