03 November 2018
I’ve said it before, there ain’t no party like a Skindred Halloween party and this year’s Night Of The Living Dred on Wednesday 31st October at the Empire Coventry was no exception.
This was the opening night of the ‘That’s My Jam’ tour, and when I caught up with Arya and Mikey pre-show they promised that fans can expect a more intimate experience, as all the shows are scheduled at smaller venues that the band haven’t played for over 15 years, or never before. They’re looking forward to seeing the whites of your eyes and feeling your sweat landing on them – nice!
You can count on Skindred fans to really get into the ‘Night Of the Living Dred’ vibe… the venue is packed with zombies, ghouls and ghosties, and we’re certainly in for a treat tonight 👻
The two support bands, Ballsdeep and Last Hounds did a sterling job of warming up the crowd and keeping us entertained until just before 9.30pm when the music cranks up, and we know it won’t be long before one of the greatest live bands of all time hits the stage.
And there it is… the Imperial March… IT’S TIME!!!!
Daniel, Arya and Mikey take to the stage, closely followed by arguably the best frontman in Metal. Tonight Benji Webbe marches on stage adorned with a stunning leather jacket covered in sparkles and studs and they kick off the show with the new album’s title track ‘Big Tings’. When Benji points at us and yells ‘All you Coventry Muthafuckers scream!!!’ We scream… 🤘🏼
Anyone who has never been to a Skindred gig is woefully missing out. There is no mosh pit because the entire room from front to back is one massive mosh pit. We’re taken from the latest release right back to the 2004 Babylon album with ‘Selector’ and ‘Pressure’, with a ‘Back in Black’ medley chucked in, and then onto ‘Rat Race’ from 2012.
Such is Benji’s command over the audience that we literally do what we’re told. When Benji tells us to bounce, we bounce… when Benji sings ‘If You’re Happy And You know It Clap Your Hands’ we clap our hands – we really did and it felt great! 😂
Next up we’re brought back to the new album again with ‘Machine’ the first single released, which saw some criticism for being ‘straight forward rock ‘n’ roll’ – I’ve heard worse insults. As a big middle finger to the haters, the crowd goes nuts for this all-out, ballsey ‘straight forward rock ’n’ roll’ track. And just to prove that Skindred’s new stuff really is ‘playing to their arena-filling strengths, driven by its choruses, and has enough power to stand side by side with setlist faves at live shows’*, as one reviewer stated, we’re effortlessly into tracks ‘Ninja’ and ‘The Kids Are Right Now’ from the 2014 album ‘Kill the Power’.
The room continues to bounce and mosh from front to back and side to side and we’re still doing everything we’re told – when Benji wants to see us ‘Wave like the queen’, hell yeah we do… and we ‘do Kung Fu’ because we truly are his bitches and we love it! Another staunch favourite is up next – ‘Sound the Siren’ from Volume from 2015 is a huge anthem and then we’re back up to date with ‘That’s My Jam’ when Benji splits the room with one half ‘woo woo-ing’ and the other half singing ‘that’s my jam’. Out here in the pit it’s hot, we’re very sweaty and we’re very LOUD!
So engaged are we that when Benji and guitarist Mikey bring the pace right down for acoustic track ‘Saying It Now’ and Benji delivers his heartfelt story about a friend who died of cancer, we listen and we promise ourselves that we will not put off a visit to see our own friends.
And then we’re back up to full volume, with the balls out, bangin ‘Kill the Power’ – and we’re going mental again. This followed by ‘Destroy The Dancefloor’ from the 2008 album Roots Rock Riot… and then… no, it can’t be! It’s almost over!
‘Nobody’ is announced as the last track, the fans go nuts and then of course when the band leaves the stage, we’re begging for more because we know it’s not a Skindred show without the infamous Newport Helicopter. For that we need an encore, and of course, we get it. After we ‘Boom Boom Shake Shake the Room’ for a bit of silliness, it’s here! We know what to do, but Benji’s gonna make us ‘Wait for it, Bitches’ because you can’t peak to soon and spoil it.
‘Warning’ from the 2011 Union Black album is that track – the one that’s going to make sure the band gets hit square in the face with the sweat from the crowd… we’re giving it everything we’ve got, we get down low and explode into head banging and bouncing like the crazy Coventry muthafuckers we are… and the best bit? The NEWPORT HELICOPTER!! If you’re in the crowd, you’re gonna take off your shirt… hold it up high and then you ‘Wait for it, Bitches’… you wait, you wait, the music builds and when it all kicks off on stage everyone in the crowd explodes into swinging our t-shirts round and round – a room full of newport helicopters is truly an exhilarating sight to behold. It’s fair to say Skindred really are ‘one of the most devastating and enthralling live bands on the planet… capable of uniting people from all corners of the globe and making every last one of them tear up the dancefloor’**
And there it is… there really ain’t no party like a Skindred Halloween party. The track they leave the stage to really does say it all… yes Skindred, you’re quite right, ‘Nobody does it better…. Baby, you’re the best!’
Review by Caz Parker for Midlands Metalheads 3rd November 2018
*from a review by Matt Mills of MetalHammer
**from a Press Release by Dom Lawson
Photos by Manny Manson for MMH