LIVE: Skindred/ The Blackout/ Hacktivist @ Newport Centre [08/03/14]

By Lais

Tonight sees Newport’s finest reggae/rock titans Skindred return to their hometown, and it’s just as spectacular as expected. They’ve brought along some friends for the ride – The Blackout, Hacktivist, Feed The Rhino and Continents – and it’s very nearly an all-Welsh bill. Sadly we miss Continents and Feed The Rhino, due to early stage times, but both bands get rave reviews from the crowd.

Our first band of the night are Hacktivist, who are generating an awful lot of hype at the moment. Tonight they absolutely smash it, and this is definitely one of their best live performances. Their mixture of rap and metal goes down a storm with the Skindred fans, and the whole band are contagiously energetic. The highlight of their set is undoubtedly their cover of ‘Ni**as In Paris’, which is utterly fantastic. It’s just a shame that Astroid Boys couldn’t be on this bill as well.

Next up are main support band The Blackout, who have come from down the road in Merthyr Tydfil. They start the set unsure as to whether Skindred’s crowd will like them, but they finish completely triumphant in the knowledge that they’ve put on a great show for their own fans and converted a lot of Skindred’s too. Frontman Sean Smith in particular has excellent banter with the crowd tonight, and songs like ‘Shut The Fuck Uppercut’ and ‘Start The Party’ rev the crowd up completely. Fantastic show, and more proof that they’re still one of the best live bands out there.

And so we come to the main event tonight: Skindred. They are well known as a spectacular live band, and if anyone can back that up, they can. Tonight they well and truly blow every single person in that room away. There are genuinely no words that can do justice to their live performance: they are relentlessly energetic and utterly compelling. Frontman Benji Webbe is most definitely one of the best frontmen in the world and can only be matched in terms of energy by Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix (who apparently did a rendition of ‘Warning’ with them once).

Tonight the band’s set consists of a mixture of their five albums, and it’s pretty impressive how well the crowd respond to tracks off their new album ‘Kill The Power’. For such a recent release, the fans seem to know every word, and it’s testament to the fact they’ve written a great record. Every single track gets a rapturous reaction tonight, including DJ Dan Sturgess’ segment: he does a kind of electronic interlude, and his mini DJ set includes massive bangers like Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’. It’s utterly fantastic, and it gives frontman Benji a chance to do one of his outfit changes (and all three of them are brilliantly eye catching).

There’s no doubt that tonight’s highlight is ‘Warning’, which they play during their encore, mainly because of the famous Newport Helicopter. This is actually the first time they’ve done the Newport Helicopter in Newport, and it’s unreal. For the uninitiated, the Newport Helicopter involves every member of the crowd taking off a garment and swinging it above their heads, and it looks unbelievable. It’s a brilliant moment, and every single person in the room leaves with their mind completely and utterly blown. One of the best live bands in the world? Very possibly.