LIVE: Skindred / CKY / Danko Jones @ LCR, Norwich

By Louis Kerry

It’s almost slipped under the radar, the fact that the Welsh ragga-metal superheroes Skindred have been on the scene for almost 20 years now. Not a band to ever pat themselves on the back and shout about these things, it should still be said that throughout these two decades, they have not only been one of the most consistently epic bands in the UK, but they constantly prove that they are without a doubt one of the most entertaining live bands on the planet. Marking the first night of their UK tour, the four-piece start things in Norwich, the way they mean to go on for the rest of year, by being as entertaining as they can possibly be.

While many people are still outside making the most of a rare sunny English day in the middle of April, Canadian trio Danko Jones start the night to a sparse but attentive crowd. The people who make in time are lucky enough to witness a massive dose of the veteran’s undiluted, no-nonsense hard rock. With 22 years worth of singalongs in their arsenal, the likes of ‘I Gotta Rock’ and ‘Gonna Be A Fight Tonight’ win everybody over.

Following that, the rarely seen on UK shores CKY roll back the years like you are still in the early noughties watching Jackass over and over again. Wasting no time, as the sun outside goes down and the venue fills out, they hammer you with riffs and thundering drums like there’s no tomorrow. Offering a setlist that is heavy on their earlier work, the trio have remarkable chemistry together. As soon as frontman and guitarist Chad Ginsberg hints at just the opening notes of the post-grunge adolescent anthem ‘96 Quite Bitter Beings’, the crowd goes suitably berzerk.

Despite both supports offering decent chunks of rock ‘n’ roll for the fans, the excitement for Skindred in comparison is virtually unmeasurable. From the sirens of their Star Wars Imperial March remix, the band come on firing from all cylinders, wasting no time in whipping the crowd into a mash-up flavoured frenzy. Opening on new track ‘Big Tings’, you are reassured that the band still know how to put together a certified ragga-metal banger as the crowd open up the pit instantly. Once guitarist Mikey Demus launches into the reggae inspired riff opening of ‘Selector’, not only does the summer vibe make it feel like you’re back outside in the sun, but there’s not a pair of feet stuck to the ground in the whole venue, as everyone gets moving.

One of the most beautiful things about Skindred is their accessibility and their mission to put on the most inclusive performance possible. Wanting to be the rock band everybody can count on, whether you prefer the sing along anthems like ‘Pressure’, the face melting metal ragers like ‘Kill The Power’ or their inspired hip hop interludes, Skindred have you covered tonight.

One of the most poignant parts of the set is when singer Benji Webbe takes a moment to not just being the hilarious and playful frontman he is so well known for, but gets serious about talking to your loved ones before it’s too late before he performs a stripped back version of ‘Saying It Now’, causing many watery eyes in the crowd. Only Skindred could pull off such a heartfelt moment in the middle of rock ‘n’ roll show with ease.

After they make one of the biggest pits of the year erupt with their ode to the mosh ‘Nobody’, Skindred catch many by surprise with their encore. The band put on a perfect ten year celebration of their classic album ‘Roots Rock Riot’. The quickfire medley of the title track, ‘Trouble’, Rat Race and the rarely played but always guaranteed to cause carnage ‘Destroy The Dancefloor’ sending the crowd into a frenzy. This was the perfect way to pay tribute to a special time in the band’s career without resting on nostalgia with the tired ‘album in full’ gimmick which so many other acts seem to rely on. When you’re still making absolute bangers ten years on, there’s no need for Skindred to rely on just their heritage.

Ending on the ragga punk favourite ‘Warning’ as the audience go full on crackers with the infamous ‘Newport Helicopter’, a sea of sweat dripping t-shirts flung in the air marks the climax of a timeless performance. Leaving to the sound of the Carly Simon hit, the words really do speak for themselves and, sarcastic or not, when it comes to Skindred and their live shows… “Nobody Does it Better”.

Louis Kerry