Support: The Howling Tides & Raging Speedhorn
So, another journey to Rock City, this time to see that Welsh Nu-Metal maestro Benji Webbe and the mighty Skindred. OK, maybe not necessarily Nu-Metal – how about Nu-Reggae?
On first we have The Howling Tides; this young band have already thrilled fans by appearing on the Jägermeister stage at this years Bloodstock. Hitting the stage, they’re straight into their latest release ‘Thalia’ and what a firecracker it is too. Rob Bayne’s great vocal cuts through as the guitars of Bayne’s, and over the other side of drummer Steve ‘Herbie’ Herbert’s drum kit, Hayden Kirk thrash about, almost like they have a life all of their own. It’s great to see a band knocking out a set that doesn’t conform to the now popular NWOCR category. It’s a very short set which is interrupted by interloper, Frank Regan from Raging Speedhorn, who charges to the front of the stage and discharges a fire extinguisher toward the crowd much to the displeasure of the security.
Set List: Thalia / Cut Your Losses / Blue Moon / White Crow / 12/8 / He Told Me / Crack My Soul
Raging Speedhorn are up next and this promises to be one hell of a set. With two vocalist’s they are hard hitting and, in your face. Daniel Cook wastes no time in climbing on the bouncer step at the barrier and leaning into the crowd as he delivers a screaming vocal, Frank Regan, vocalist number two is at the moment sedately pacing back and forth on the stage delivering a deliberate counter to cooks vocal. Guitarist James Palmer joins Cook on the barrier, ripping out a searing solo he almost sits in the crowd as he spins around just in time to see Regan fall backwards off the stage into the pit, striking his head as he does so, out cold the security run in and signal to the soundboard to kill the set. The band are staring but playing on as this happens. With a paramedic summoned Regan gets to his knees, rubs his ear and climbs back on the stage. The side of his head has a gash above and behind his ear, but determined to carry on he grabs a cymbal from the drum kit and bangs it on his head like a Chinese work house hat and the band continue with the set. Regan is wobbling about and slurring his words, it’s obvious he’s not right, swinging the microphone around his head it gets tangled and yes you’ve guessed it he gets another bash to his noggin’ still not to be out done he stumbles across to guitarist Dave Leese who you can see is dreading it and promptly leans all over him as he tries to solo. We’re only three songs in and its obviously going down a road the band didn’t predict.
Leaving the pit and it’s straight into a cat fight. For whatever reason the bouncers have gotten hold of two girls and are struggling to eject them, at one point I’m pinned to the wall as they struggle past with them both, what a night.
While all this is happening, things on stage are getting gradually worse, Regan has slumped to the floor and is sat there, the band manager has called the set to an end as its obvious Regan needs some attention, the crowd, as behaved as ever have started boo-in and throwing their plastic glasses at the stage. The band leave the stage less than halfway through their set.
Set List: Hand of God / Voodoo Man / Motorhead / The Gush / Spitfire / Hard to Kill / Scrapin / Doom Machine / Hate Song / Brutality
We have a longer wait now before the headline act turn up, it’s an early curfew of 10pm tonight so they are on earlier than normal thankfully but we still have a good 45+ minutes to wait. Hopefully the actions of one-person won’t see the socials full of hate for the entire band.
Skindred have put together a great set list for their 2021 ‘SHOW TIME’ tour. Having already smashed Bloodstock earlier this year, what a show to do straight out of lockdown, the band are well into their nationwide tour and are on fire. Standing on stage dressed in red leather, a red top hat adorned in feathers, Benji peacocks and absorbs the adulation being thrown at the band. Strutting about with his Union Black flag he stands and postulates to the crowd and the gathered photographers, there are eight of us tonight.
The set consists of classics ‘Stand for Something’, ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Doom Riff’ and they waste no time in getting down to it. Familiar guitars and drum beats are intertwined with the, now iconic programmed sounds that are so Skindred and over the top you have that Benji Patois style of vocal taking this Nu Metal vibe and making it very Nu Reggae. It’s a genius combination that works.
With the crowd bouncing non-stop and outstretched horns punching the air the night very quickly gets hot and sweaty, ‘Pressure’ see’s the traditional Back in Black mix thrown in and that’s followed by ‘That’s my Jam’ and then into the heavier, ‘Ninja’. Van Halen’s Jump is up next mixed into ‘Jump Around’. The crowd don’t need any coaxing as the venue shudders, violently, to 2000 fans rocking out.
A sandwich episode follows where a young lady is challenged to eat a butty in under 30 seconds, the prize is a supersonic trip on Concorde to see Slipknot on Saturday! I think she was the only one in the room that thought this could be a thing! Anyway, luckily, she failed, with food hanging out of her mouth Benji, between bouts of gagging, throws her of the stage. Finishing the set off we have ‘Kill the Power’ again with more sing along, the divine acoustic ‘Saying it Now’ a tune that Benji insists that people listen too. When you get the backstory to this beautiful tune that Benji sings in such a heartfelt way, you suddenly find yourself wiping the sweat out of your stinging eyes. The set closes with the grinding ‘Nobody’ from the album Babylon.
Now that cheering really starts, ‘One More Song’ strikes up, along with “Skindred” shouted repeatedly. When they eventually come back on, Benji is now wearing the yellow jacket made popular by Freddie Mercury, this soon comes off to reveal a white shirt with the word UNITY across the back.
Benji says there’s only one more song, a dubstep mix to Slipknots duality strikes up briefly before dropping into the night closer and staple of any Skindred set ‘Warning’. Already guys have their tee shirts off ready for the command that when it does happen the roof lifts of as the Newport Helicopter thrashes wildly around the venue. No Skindred gig is complete without a visit from the Helicopter, and tonight is no exception. As the band pose for the obligatory crowd photo the exit music strikes up, Carly Simon’s ‘Nobody Does It Better’ and few would argue with that. As the crowd exits, the sweaty smiles speak volumes. After months of inactivity, Live Music is back and Skindred have resoundly spanked the arse of lock down and delivered a tonic to cure even the bluest of hearts.
Set List: Stand for Something / Rat Race / Sound the Siren / Doom Riff / Pressure-back in Black / That’s My jam / Ninja / VH Jump-Jump Around / Kill the Power / Saying it Now / Nobody / Slipknot Mix-Warning
Skindred should be on the NHS, like a lot of medicine, some will find it distasteful but you cannot deny its power for making you feel a damn sight better; now where’s that big spoon?
Words & Images: Manny Manson
[Editors Note: After spending the night in hospital Raging Speedhorn’s Frank Regan is reported to be recovering well and will be back out with the band imminently]