Skindred @ Birmingham Academy 2 – 15th May 2008

Skindred@ Birmingham Academy

It seems like Skindred have been on tour forever, popping up supporting a range of bands, from Gogol Bordello to Bullet For My Valentine. Tonight, however, the spotlight is solely on them.

First though, Daywalkers have their turn, taking on a reasonably similar style to the headliners, although they lack the experience and impact of Skindred. Their set improves as it progresses, the rock and rap combination going down well with the crowd. Second song ‘Bring The Mayhem’ sees MC Tonn Piper spitting out lyrics with perfect form over funk inspired riffs. They are entertaining, and Piper’s rap skills are impressive, however they can, at times, come across and a poor imitation of the headline act.

Daywalkers@ Birmingham Academy

Exeter’s Idiom have a tough crowd to contend with at the beginning of their set, their youth and singer Matt Sharland’s predominately screamed vocals getting them written off as emo by many of those who are quick to judge. However they clearly have friends here who more than make up for anyone who’s unsure. Sharland’s screaming sounds great, cutting through the fast paced guitars of ‘Placebo’, however the Rage Against The Machine style shouted vocals between this sound strange without the force of a voice like Zack de la Rocha’s.

Idiom@ Birmingham Academy

Skindred emerge to their now traditional hip hop Imperial March to a deafening welcome. They have played in Birmingham many times over the years, and their fan base is clearly still growing. The Newport guys have already proven themselves time and time again, both headlining and supporting, often outshining the headline act. Tonight however, with their massive reggae, punk and metal combination sound packed into the Academy 2, they rock harder than ever.

Unfortunately at times the sound isn’t ideal, feedback ringing out on a number of occasions, but the band don’t seem at all fazed by it; they’ve seen it all before. Benji is charismatic and likeable as ever, building the crowd up until there’s hardly anyone standing still in the entire packed out room.

Skindred@ Birmingham AcademySkindred@ Birmingham Academy

It’s hard to choose a couple of highlights, all the songs delivered with precision, yet with all the excitement and force they can give. The energy of ‘Babylon’ along with its rebellious message makes it a favourite with the crowd, and newer song ‘State Of Emergency’ is already well loved by fans.

A potential downside to the constant touring is that fans who have seen them every time they have played the West Midlands recently may feel they are just watching the same show over and over. However, this is not the case; with a mix of older, less often played songs, crowd favourites and newer tracks from ‘Roots, Rock, Riot’ as well as a few surprises, Skindred keep the fans on their toes. Benji’s version of Panic At The Disco’s ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ is unexpected and the inclusion of sampled reggae tracks reminds of just one of their many influences.

Skindred@ Birmingham Academy

Benji tells the crowd how the band aim to bring people through their music, and they have certainly succeeded in doing so. The crowd consists of a diverse mix of people, all here for one band, and they won’t be leaving disappointed. Skindred are a great British band who are always worth catching live, even for those who have seen them a number of times. With a show as dynamic and varied as theirs, it’s difficult to be bored when they take to the stage.

Review – Helen Catchpowle
Photos – Lucy Pryor

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