Skindred – Brighton Centre

By paul

Plus Karnivool
Concorde II, Brighton
19th October 2009

Skindred?s live show is beyond infamous. If there?s a negative review of a Skindred gig online, in the press, anywhere, then I?m yet to see it. The praise for the ragga-metal overlords is universal, and maybe because of that (coupled with the fact that personally, I?m a massive Skindred fan), I approached tonight?s gig and the writing of this review with added scepticism.

We?ll get to that in a minute though. Proceeding them this evening were the Australia prog-metal behemoth that is Karnivool, who to be completely honest, are probably not visible on the average Punktastic reader?s (or indeed average Skindred fan?s) radar. More of a stand-and-watch band than a let?s-get-fucking-rowdy affair like tonight?s headliners, they are still a sonically wonderful experience. Setting aside the awkward stage persona of frontman Ian Kenny, ?Simple Boy?, ?Goliath? and ?Set Fire To The Hive? help the Aussies to win over an initially reluctant crowd. In single songs they dart from disgracefully heavy chug-along riffs to gorgeous harmonies and choruses – each song is a journey in itself. Despite nine minute tracks and a ?prog-metal? tag, Karnivool?s music is ultimately a lot more conventional and appealing than their time signatures or genre classification might suggest.

When Benji Webbe waltzes on stage in his half militant, half nu-rave, yet fully awesome outfit circa ten o?clock, the Concorde II literally erupts; bodies fly stagewards before barely a note had been played. New single, ?Stand For Something? proves to be a fittingly bombastic opener, and despite a mixed response from the critics, the fans here certainly aren?t disappointed with it, or indeed the rest of the new material being aired tonight. Mixed in with the golden oldies like ?Pressure? and ?Ratrace?, the set – for which a small part of me wanted to be a let-down – was anything but. I have categorically never, ever, EVER seen a band put on a show like Skindred did tonight (and yes, I did see RATM at Reading festival last summer). The bass is thunderous, the drumming and guitars are flawlessly balanced and Benji?s voice…oh, Benji?s voice! It?s other-worldly ? the man is truly blessed. How he has got such a range, such a malleability in his mortal voice box, we will probably never know.

OK, so they didn?t play ?Babylon? and the set did end rather strangely (twenty-odd seconds or so of Sean Paul being played when we?re all expecting another song or two?), but overall Skindred?s performance tonight cannot be faulted – I?m merely fishing for negative points here in the interest of balance. Punktastic is not usually one to follow the journalistic herd, but when said herd has been declaring Skindred the best live band in the UK for several years now, we don?t really have a choice.

Absolutely fucking brilliant.

Andy R