LIVE: Skillet @ Academy, Manchester

By Izzy Clayton

Tonight marks the first of only two dates in the UK on Skillet’s 2023 ‘Day Of Destiny’ tour before the band continues into Europe and it’s no surprise that both are sold out, as evidenced by the snaking queue outside with the room full before the support acts Eva Under Fire and Like A Storm even take to the stage.

As the time comes for the headline act, each band member comes out individually with lead singer John Cooper joining last before immediately launching into the pounding beats of the anthemic opening track ‘Feel Invincible’.

With the exception of an appearance at Download last year, it’s been three and a half years since American Christian rock band Skillet hit our shores and the production value they bring with them tonight is second to none. Brightly lit back screens fill the stage and CO2 cannons are not just at the front of the stage but even strapped to lead singer Cooper’s arms as he sprays them over the crowd during ‘Surviving the Game’.

During a show of hands for who has seen Skillet before, surprisingly given the raucous nature of the crowd up to this point, there aren’t many takers. This may be due to most previous shows being down South, but Cooper is keen to emphasise that he’s glad they’ve come to Manchester, especially since drummer Jen Ledger has family members in the crowd too.

Performance is something the entire band oozes and is not only limited to front man Cooper. Guitarist Korey Cooper is an energetic ball of fun, spinning and kicking her way through every song while lead guitarist Seth Morrison offers non-stop thunderous riffs and a flawless solo at the end of ‘Awake And Alive’. Ledger is effortless in her vocal support, some of which are co-lead, whilst somehow never missing a beat of the drums and solidly headbanging throughout.

For many Skillet fans, ‘Hero’ is one of the most instantly recognisable songs as Spotify‘s numbers can attest. Whether this is through the connection to the lyrics, the heavy hooks, or purely from WWE, this track provides a platform for Cooper to address the crowd declaring he wants everyone to know that their lives matter and there is always hope. As CO2 cannons fire intermittently through the song, this track also showcases Ledger’s crisp vocals, providing a perfect complement to Cooper’s deep, raspy sounds. ‘Comatose’ gets one of the biggest cheers of the night with the entire crowd, balcony included, up on their feet.

Renowned for their thought provoking messages and lyrics that are often rooted in their faith, tonight is no different with statements of support, love and hope smattered between songs in a way that, despite being a Christian rock band, is in no way preachy yet still manages to connect with everyone in the crowd. The backlit screens spanning the width of the stage display lyrics throughout the set, but for most of the night is completely surplus to requirements as the crowd needs no prompting and sings along with every word.

Arguably their biggest track to date, ‘Monster’ is sandwiched in towards the end of the set segueing perfectly into ‘Rebirth’. As the final notes of this track echo around the venue, Skillet leave the stage to many boos and grumbles from the crowd, who are not quite ready to bring the night to a close. Cue a voiceover sounding across the speakers stating ‘This is The Resistance’ as Skillet re-enter the stage to rapturous cheers and closing the night with ‘The Resistance’.

Skillet deliver a cohesive performance from musicianship, interaction and stage production alongside each member’s raw energy which creates a truly intoxicating gig.