It’s not every gig that has a full house before the first support act takes the stage, but the excitement surrounding Skindred’s completely sold-out UK tour is at a fever pitch now, so Leeds O2 Academy was absolutely rammed from the word go.
Lake Malice are a fantastic, adrenaline shot of an opening act and spent their 30-minute set making the audience bounce frantically. There’s an electronic metal vibe to their racket that builds up tension until it’s released with a massive riff or a crunching breakdown. It’s a real edge-of-the-seat thrill ride from start to finish and makes them a band you need to check out as soon as possible.
Next up were London Nu-Metaller’s BLACKGOLD, who are a complete mystery as far as who they are, where they met in fact, they seem to have no backstory at all – making them quietly sinister and menacing. Their take on Nu-metal is fresh and distinctive, and they drop several old-school hip-hop tracks into their set too to add to the nostalgic vibe. Definitely worth further investigation.
Welsh ragga-metal sound system Skindred are having the year of their lives with a new album reaching No.2 in the charts, appearances on Breakfast TV and ‘Nevermind the Buzzcocks,’ and the 16-date UK tour completely selling out (thanks to a late surge in Newcastle) they have a lot to smile about.
This, the live setting, is where they leave their mark though. Never have I seen them play a bad show and this one was no different. Taking the stage to rapturous applause, the audience was more than up for this.
This band has kept the same line-up for the best part of 25 years, and in that time, have absolutely nailed the perfect set in order to elicit the perfect response from a crowd, the beauty in this is that they can keep the bones of the show consistent such as the epic entrance theme of the Empire March or Benji telling the crowd to fuck off and buy a t-shirt but drop in any track from their now vast back catalogue and never disappoint.
Benji says how pleased he is to be playing at a sold-out Town and Country Club, which receives a huge cheer, as Leeds T&C was the name of the previous venue in this spot and a Mecca for many of the rock fans in attendance who each have wonderful memories of the shows they saw there. There are fans who remember seeing them in the tiny Cockpit venue across town, and fans who have just recently joined the family, but each and every one of them is appreciated by the band equally. They are all about love and unity and that is abundantly clear on nights like this one.
With a new album release, it’s always great to hear the tracks live, so opener “Set Fazers,” “Gimme that Boom,” and an absolutely joyous version of “L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)” with Benji in his stunning pink hat from the video, all hit the mark and sounded incredible. Older tracks like “Babylon” and “World’s on Fire” got the heart racing, and “Kill the Power,” the fists pumping.
The venue was so full there was barely any room to swing a cat, but all 2,500 fans managed to swing their shirts in the air for the ubiquitous Newport Helicopter later in the set. This remains a sight to behold and something every Skindred fan looks forward to.
Chances are you’ve experienced this for yourself at some point, but if not, you simply must make a date with the Skindred Soundsystem. You’re guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face.