Gig Review by Kirsty Hillyer with Gig Photos by Lee Allen

An evening of feeling slightly lost in a 90s time-warp surrounded by crustys, old metal heads and a mixed bag Download crowd. The joy of Skindred brings all the groups to the yard!

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Opener Last Hounds bask in their opportunity to play the main room at The Empire for the first time.

Bouncing and blasting through a new-nu-metal set of songs with a lyrical undercurrent of death you can see how these boys could infect a pent up youth.

Their lead singer is a contradiction of laddish cock thrusting dance moves meets polite requests from the crowd to pretty please let him sing amongst us, followed by an embarrassing crowd surf.

Whilst they punch hard with walking baselines and fast rhymes they smack of inauthenticity from the trite lyrics to the stage persona. Commit to authenticity or alter ego. There can be no half measures.

There is great potential for this cross over band that meld grime and hardcore tones.They have the talent to blow up but first they need to join the dots between who they are, what they want to say and what they want to be so it all connects.

The Balls Deep boys from Stoke came out swinging with a set of gruff non-progressive metal. They themselves proclaim they are aggressive and not progressive and I can see why.

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With a quite a few fans in the crowd the band played it like a headline show and smashed riff after riff into the make up clad crowd’s face. The band clearly have no idea of the meaning of subtle but sometimes this is a good thing. Amidst a landscape of fair weather British bands evolving to increase pay checks over depth of musical identity it’s nice to see a set of head down face unrelenting metal.

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As we awaited the party band that is Skindred the crowd joined in on Queen sing-a-long to set the vibe for the final act.

Skindred came out to a transition of ACDC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ into a hip-hop beat mash up of Vader’s theme.

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Each member was given a rousing welcome but lead singer Benji gets the big applause as he sports a silver sequin denim jacket and a grey scale union flag.

Opening with the title track of their latest album ‘Big Tings’ the crowd quickly obliged Benji by raising a sea of devil horns. Big hit ‘Pressure’ segued into ACDC’s Back in Black and it’s these small nods to classic Rock tracks, movie scores and nursery rhymes like ‘if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’ that leaves everyone with the biggest smiles and a continually hirer bounce to their step.

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Closing the show with ‘Warning’ this blend of Raggapunk transcends genres and groups. The joy of a Skindred show lies within the heart of a band having a great time performing. This energy extends throughout the catchy hooks and musical heritage that ticks a box for everyone.

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Set list:
Big Tings
Selector
Pressure
Ratrace
Machine
Ninja
Sound the Siren
That’s My Jam
Saying it Now (acoustic)
Kill the Power
Destroy the Dancefloor
Nobody
Warning

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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