|Skindred/RSJ - York, The Duchess - 12th December 2012|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Friday, 04 January 2013 03:00|
I got into Skindred through my brother who got into them through me when I bought him a Dub War album on cassette in 1995. Swings and roundabouts maybe, but whoever liked 'em first (okay, it was him!) one thing is certain, there is no band quite like Skindred.
My brother is a massive Skindred fan, he is always telling me I should go see them live and I never have until tonight. He saw Dub War at Glastonbury and this love has followed on to Skindred. They have played York several times in the past but I have always missed them for one reason or another. The world may be due to end on the 21st of December, some said it may end tonight (being 12-12-12), I don't know about any of that, but when a date was announced at The Duchess on the last leg of the Union Black Tour, how could I resist the chance to go out on a high with a night of ragga metal with Newport's finest?
The whole tour is unsurprisingly sold out and The Duchess is packed tonight as I walk in to catch the some of the set by local support band RSJ. Way too hardcore for my tastes the singer Dan spends a large majority of their half hour slot upside down in the crowd with just his legs sticking out. There is lots of screaming and shouting and generally it's pretty brutal stuff, god I'm sounding old aren't I? Well, hardcore screamo stuff just ain't my cup of tea to be honest, but what they do, they do it well and with bundles of energy. With confidence and attitude they play a blinder and the crowd lap it up.
There is a definite buzz about tonight before Skindred take to the stage, as the house lights dim pre-show, the stage lights up and the PA is turned up a decibel or two, a mosh pit quickly forms in the centre of the room and kids start going for it, round in a circle full pelt, the band aren't even on yet. These kids mean business tonight, a sign for me to stay well clear of the front tonight as I'm definitely too old for that shit.
It's not long before the band hit the stage, the crowd erupts and for the next hour or so the whole room bounces as one to the sound of one of the UK's finest live metal bands. Benji Webbe dressed in white jacket, top hat and big shades has had years of practice of how to work a room into a frenzy and he has The Duchess eating out of his hand from the off. Two songs into the set shirtless, dripping wet guys are already seen staggering out from the mosh pit towards the bar to replenish the liquid they have just lost, and this seems to be a continuing theme for the whole set.
For the last couple of years I have been wearing ear plugs to gigs, it seems the sensible thing to do after doing too many Wildhearts gigs in the past without them. Being able to actually hear the next day is important to me and I really am glad I did tonight. As expected Skindred are fuckin' loud and holy shit that bass is phenomenal, it rattles through my bones and could surely floor a lesser man, the neighbours may well think the world actually is ending tonight after all.
Highlights? 'Cut Dem' from 'Union Black' sounds great tonight as does 'Pressure' mixed up with AC/DC's 'Back In Black', "fuck you next door neighbour!" Benji shouts, "Slayer! Pantera! let's see you all bouncing" yeah that's gonna do the trick, it makes for an ultra cool sounding high energy mash-up. They do this again in 'Trouble' mixing it up with 'Sad But True' by Metallica, that riff makes the place go absolutely ape shit for it tonight.
Benji addresses the crowd saying he wants to make the place explode tonight, and if you see anyone standing with a drink in their hand to knock it the fuck out. He wants to make the place bounce and he gets his wish. By the end of the main set during 'Nobody' I get myself nearer, the sweat can be seen literally dripping from the ceiling, such is the heat and the relentless energy going on in this room tonight.
Encore time sees them do a sort of dubstep version of McCartney's 'Wonderful Christmas Time'. Benji decked out in seasonal santa hat, changes the lyrics name-checking York and a girl with big tits, this morphs in with a bit of a sample of Slipknot's 'Duality', before the finale of possibly their greatest song, 'Warning'. Extended to include the infamous Newport Helicopter, the crowd goes mental as 90% of the male audience remove their shirts and wave them over their head in response to the frontman's request and a mini Download festival is recreated in The Duchess tonight to finish things off on a memorable high.
The world didn't end tonight, but Skindred laid waste to York this evening and proved that they are a force to be reckoned with and truly one of the UK's finest live metal bands. The heaviest gig I've been to in a long while and simply awesome stuff.
[Photo kudos to Kluens Photography]