|Skindred/Raging Speedhorn/RSJ - York, Fibbers - 8 February 2017|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Saturday, 18 February 2017 05:00|
It's been five long years since Skindred played York, on the ‘Union Black’ Tour. That was at the now sadly defunct Duchess on the other side of town. They have played Fibbers a good few times before, but this is their first visit to the new Fibbers and with its larger capacity it is a venue ideally suited to this three band metal extravaganza on a cold and wintery Wednesday evening.
The last time I saw RSJ supporting Skindred the room was packed and frontman Dan was upside down in the crowd of an already packed room. No such luck tonight as it seems many were not aware of the early doors tonight and RSJ hitting the stage at 7.15pm. So while some punters were still sat on a train or downing a pint in a local bar, the lads were laying waste to a smaller crowd than they truly deserve.
Local boys RSJ are always a joy to watch live. Whether screaming with foot on the crash barrier, or down the front in the crowd, Dan is a singer who likes to get up close and personal and interact with his crowd, or any crowd he plays to. As he stands, a black hoodie obscuring his mass of black hair (as seems to be standard rock uniform these days at gigs), he stares at the audience as guitarist Guff pummels out drop-tuned riff after motherfucking riff by his side.
The likes of opener 'Giant Glenn' and 'Fuck Off Joe' have the full on rage and power to shake your insides about and leave a smile on your face. Raging Speedhorn screamer John Loughlin joins them for 'Hit The Road Jack' and by the time they reach the end of their set the room is finally filling up.
With Raging Speedhorn co-vocalist Frank Regan on vocal rest due to doctors orders, Dan from RSJ has been filling those mighty boots for these dates. Many times I have seen a band have to seriously work a York crowd up and tonight is one of those nights. By the middle of their set it's heaving and John Loughlin is already goading the crowd, "Are we really that boring?" he asks, as he singles out one girl texting down the front. It may be tongue in cheek but I imagine he was pissed, I mean these guys are giving there all up there, my phone stayed in my pocket for the entire night and that's not just because I don't get a signal in Fibbers.
"C'mon York, this is my hometown show" shouts Dan and between them they wake the whole room and manage to get a pit going. Once they start there was no stopping the intensity from growing and the duo get the crowd bouncing.
Yeah, tonight wasn't easy for them and Raging Speedhorn had to work it, but a triumph of sheer power and brutal riffage won the crowd over.
It’s hot and sweaty already by the time AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' and the following Star Wars 'Imperial March' signal the impending entrance of one of the greatest live metal bands this country has produced in recent years.
"If you've seen Skindred before raise your hands in the air, if you've not seen Skindred before raise your hands in the air...welcome to the family!" Who can deny Benji Webbe his place up there with the iconic frontmen this country has to offer? It's been a steady rise over the years but Skindred now sit high on festival bills, in fact, later this year they will headline Uber Rock's old hometown Steelhouse Festival in Ebbw Vale. Quite rightly deserved too, as not only do they have the perfect tunes in their original brand of Ragga punky metal, but their enigmatic frontman has the power to work a crowd like only a handful of frontmen can.
'Under Attack' from last album 'Volume' is a killer opener. Benji stands on a metal ramp, middle of the stage seemingly ten foot tall, head to toe in black. His eyes hidden by those iconic studded shades, a union jack flag draped over his mic stand, towering over his admiring crowd and flanked as ever by the animated Mikey Demus and Dan Pugsley.
'Rat Race' is followed by 'Doom Riff' and 'Ninja' in quick succession, they sounds massive, the latter a definite early highlight of the night. The perfect mix of ragga rock and massive riffage that makes this band stand out from every other modern metal band out there. The band are tight as fuck and Benji on fine form.
Mid-set sees the frontman address the crowd, going through a list of heaviest bands as voted in a survey, Family Fortunes style. As Benji reels them off, bassist Dan triggers the iconic wrong answer "eh-uhh" noise. Guess who won? I'll give you a clue... it wasn't Metallica, even though they did jam out 'Sad But True' for a bit after.
The singer and the guitarist perform an emotive acoustic version of 'Saying It Now' that totally fits the lyrical content. "Life is short, don't wait for tomorrow..." the singer tells us in his opening speech and I couldn't agree more with this sentiment.
The energy levels rise once more as 'Kill The Power' gets the crowd singing as one and bouncing as one, not for the first or the last time tonight. 'Nobody' is total insanity...nobody gets out alive, it still kills it all these years later.
A one song encore is all that is needed and 'Warning' does the trick, the ensuing Newport Helicopter a sight only this band can create as a sea of drenched t shirts are raised above heads, I smile as I witness girls try their best to avoid bare chested, sweaty men of various sizes and ages as they head for the bar once the final chords ring out. Carly Simon's 'Nobody Does It Better' plays over the PA and rings true as the band leave the stage, we are well and truly done.
Do Skindred do bad gigs? I doubt it, do Skindred do average gigs? I seriously doubt that as well. In my experience Skindred deliver a full on energy fuelled show and tonight was no different. Newport's finest export did it to York yet again.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Marc McGarraghy/Yellow Mustang Photography.
Skindred play a number of festivals over the summer, including a headlining slot at Steelhouse (29-30 July), and appearances at Boomtown (10-13 August) and Bloodstock (11-13 August).
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