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LIVE REVIEW: Skindred @ Manchester Academy

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WORDS: Laura McCarthy

The evenings are drawing in, festivals are well and truly over and so the gig season has come underway. Coming to the Manchester Academy on was a quartet of bands for the masses to enjoy, and well and truly warm themselves into the cold period.

The first support was YASHIN, a band heralded in the underground scene. With energetic performances, frontmen Kevin Miles and Harry Radford dove around and shouted with fair effort into the crowd trying to get things going. They don’t do too badly either, with many a young fan happy to see the band back after time on their new album. However, while the new material and the high spirits of the band came across well, this might have been a little too out of this crowds range. Nevertheless, it was good to see YASHIN back at it, still very much the metal-core underdogs on their way up.

Rating: 6/10

Next up was (HED) PE, who after many years of not quite hitting the kind of audience they’d like to, were given a fair reception. For those unfamiliar with (HED) PE, look to KORN, MOTLEY CREW or SNOT. Many seemed unsure at the beginning of the set but it was clear midway that many enjoyed the sentiments of what the band are all about. Much was the positivity of the response to Ordo Ab Chao, a song infusing many sounds and themes, including elements of reggae, metal, politics, and a melodica. Not to everyone’s taste, but a fun, fair performance all-round.

Rating: 5/10

CROSSFAITH are a band many have heard of, with a great sound, infusing DJing into the metalcore mix, and within moments the crowd was under the spell of the massive sound. The Japanese band have increased in popularity over the years, and they truly know how to communicate with a gathering in order to get them going after such an extensive amount of time playing big shows and festivals. Having said all this, while the light show, the bands own energy and the reception generally was phenomenal, it couldn’t be helped but notice that the tracks weren’t completely live with regards to the dance elements. This obviously can be tricky to convey to a crowd this big, but on occasion you couldn’t help wondering if the play button had just been pressed instead of music being created. However, the band still played a great set, and finished with their classic rendition of THE PRODIGY’s Omen. CROSSFAITH have definitely changed over the years, but their unique blend of music definitely holds strong.

Rating: 7/10

With so much music already ringing in their ears, it would be fair for the crowd to be fairly worn out and unresponsive. However, this assumption would mean you clearly have never been to a SKINDRED performance. With the Imperial March blasting from the hefty sound system, the cries were louder and more ready to party than ever. The band confidently approached the stage, with frontman Benji Webb in a wonderfully sparkly red jacket. Launching into Under Attack, the crowd clearly absolutely loved what they were seeing. Madly enjoyable, the bouncing and the singalong continued pretty much all night, to favourites like Doom Riff, Ninja and Pressure as well as new tracks Sound the Siren and Volume from the new album of the same name. For anyone who knows SKINDRED, the emphasis on a good time hinges on the fact that everyone is equal in this crowd. You will find a similar spiel about how colour and sexuality being inconsequential at pretty much every gig these guys play, and it’s never preachy or condescending. Its truth that is not only accepted, but adds to the enjoyment. This kind of thing is the only break in the relentless bouncing, with the occasional interjection from Benji, to sing conversationally back and forth with the masses (a rendition of happy birthday was conducted at one point for his sister), and occasionally insult their participation skills. All in good fun, it was mentioned by one crowd member “how are this band not headlining festivals yet?”. It’s a pretty solid testament to the quality of show SKINDRED put on, with a frontman who interacts with his crowd like old friends and gears them into frenzy with barely a seconds notice.

The light show was something that you would experience at a much bigger venue, the music clearly live but meticulously well-played. The end of Nobody left the crowd clearly wanting more, and the guys didn’t wait around to push into the encore, the long awaited Warning with the ever popular windmilling of shirts. It’s a sight to see and even better to be involved in, much more so because Koie Kenta & Jahred Gomes, frontmen for CROSSFAITH and (HED)PE respectively sprung on stage to complete the evening.

Each individual element of the evening was a spectacle, an event all on its own, but collectively, the Pump Up The Volume tour has to be one of the most explosively good times and best performances from SKINDRED yet. Now that’s saying something.

Rating: 9/10

 

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