David Webb reviews Skindred at the Roadmender in Northampton
Welsh ‘ragga metallers’ Skindred brought their Sound The Siren tour to the Roadmender on Thursday night.
Fans snaked their way around the Northampton venue outside as openers Skam took to the stage before being followed by main support, Raging Speedhorn.
Before the Corby six piece took to the stage, their guitars, left leaning against amps, created a tense surging din of feedback, setting the tone for the rest of the night.
Speedhorn hit the stage brandishing a cornucopia of alcoholic beverages in hand and opened with Hate Song, which they delivered with the appropriate emotions.
As they tore through their set which included Scrapin and Thumper, their double fronted lead vocalist commanded more and more respect from a somewhat timid audience.
“I wanna see some pit action and I wanna see it now,” demanded vocalist John Loughlin – with the crowd responding accordingly generating a sizable circle pit.
Raging Speedhorn don’t have flashy guitar solos, or gimmicky stage tricks – rather sheer ferocious power, quality well delivered musicianship and fat heavy riffs along with some great characters that you can’t help but want to watch.
With a sound almost like a nu-metal Black Sabbath there is something familiar but not overly derivative in their music that anyone with an appreciation of metal can enjoy.
They finished their set with the tantalisingly slow Ten of Swords, during which both singers left the stage for the rest of the band to stretch out the last song ever more slowly.
Hailing from Newport, Wales, Skindred formed part of the late 1990s nu metal scene with their unmistakable metal ragga sound.
Choosing a remix of Darth Vader’s imperial march with hip hop beats and sub drops to walk on stage to, their mishmash of styles was evident before they even arrived on stage.
When they did, charismatic and commanding front man Benji couldn’t be ignored dressed in a silver jacket and sequined silver scarf with a sizeable Union Jack hanging from his microphone stand.
Skindred opened with recent track Under Attack, immediately delivering what the packed Roadmender crowd came to witness - a rhythmic hard metal sound with a soulful and aggressive edge infused with electronic beats and synths, which probably doesn’t sound possible to the imagination, but when listening to it somehow simply is.
Influences of the likes of Korn and Incubus are present in their music, but the ragga element separates them thanks to Benji’s technically brilliant stylings and the handy visual effect of a left handed guitarist and right handed bassist.
Easily flowing from similarities to the likes of Horace Andy and Freddy Mercury to a more guttural metal screech, he demonstrated there’s not much he couldn’t do with his impressive voice.
Skindred moved through Rat Race and Doom Riff and onto crowd pleaser Ninja with ease and sustained the high energy levels worthy of the music.
Benji was intent on making everyone enjoy themselves, giving an impassioned speech about ‘bringing people together’ and ‘unity and strength’.
An audience member was even singled out and ordered to ‘bounce’.
Many short interludes included snippets of the likes of House of Pain’s Jump Around with Skindred even beginning the opening sections of Metallica’s Sad But True, adding to their highly entertaining set.
Benji brought fans back down to earth to explain the meaning behind the song Saying It Now, about a friend he neglected to visit before he passed away after losing a fight against cancer.
The acoustic guitar backed and vocal only song demonstrated how it captured Benji’s tragic moment as tears were shed by audience members.
The pace was immediately picked again with the revolution inciting Kill The Power, allowing Benji to incite some group clapping.
For their finale Nobody, Benji – who returned for their encore wearing a leopard print waistcoat and gold crown, ordered the crowd to swirl their jumpers and t-shirts around their heads in a move synonymous with the band and dubbed The Newport Helicopter.
Skindred left the stage with the band members crooning along to the James Bond theme No Body Does It Better, leaving some metallers satiated and spent, while others headed off to the King Billy with the band for an after party.