Skindred – Concorde 2, Brighton – 7th December 2018

Photo by Dan Whitehouse

A band that need no introduction, Friday saw festival favourites Skindred take to the stage at Concorde 2, for the first performance of two shows at the venue, due to popular demand.

The band have been around for 20 years now, but still manage to pull in the crowds. The fact they’ve been given two evenings to play for all their fans at one of Brighton’s most popular venues says it all.

This year they released their new album, Big Tings, a record that took them into a catchier direction, but still wowed fans with the usual experimentation and cross genres you can expect from a Skindred album.

Before the band took to the stage, fans were treated to support from Black Futures, one of the most exciting bands I have discovered this year. As a support slot for Skindred, they were a different but worthy choice, venturing into a similarly experimental but more club-inspired area of music, they are clearly a band with the drive and talent to be playing huge festivals. As the band opened, additional performers stood dotted both on stage and around the room wearing forensic type suits with sunglasses covering the top of their faces. As they stood they waved flags labelled with the band’s name and danced amongst, and with, the crowd. It was a bizarre but brilliant addition, proving that the band are capable not just of pulling off a good performance, but putting on a great show.

Next, it was time for Skindred to take to the stage to a full capacity Concorde 2. Having already seen them perform at Reading festival this year, I was keen to see them play their own show, for what would actually be my first time, having only caught them at festivals previously. I wondered if this atmosphere would differ in this environment and it certainly did, but for all the right reasons.

The band entered the stage to ‘The Imperial March’ from the Star Wars soundtrack, a regular occurrence in their performance that fits perfectly with their unique mash up of genres across the eras. They transitioned from here into banger ‘Big Tings’ from their latest album, and within the first few minutes the mosh pits had begun and it was clear the room was full to the brim with the band’s biggest fans.

As the set progressed the group treated the crowd to their biggest tracks, such as ‘Ninja’, ‘Ratrace’ and ‘Kill The Power’ with the usual humour and energy to be expected.

I had spent the initial minutes pre-Skindred wondering whether the band would perform a Christmas song and in that regards didn’t disappoint. During a section of ‘Ratrace’ the band took the opportunity to throw in a rendition of ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, hilariously and abruptly cutting back into their own and obviously much heavier track.

The laughs continued throughout their set with the usual banter between lead singer Benji Webbe and the crowd. In a random turn of events he appeared at one point holding a Sainsbury’s cheese and red onion sandwich, asking who could eat it within 30 seconds. Before I had been given a chance to get a look in on one of my favourite Sainsbury’s sandwiches, a man at the front of the crowd had offered himself up. Impressively, he managed to finish within the 30 second limit, as the countdown music played to encourage him.

While the band progressed through the majority of the set with the usual upbeat vibes, Webbe took a moment to reflect on the loss of his friend, whom he promised to see but never managed to before his passing. Encouraging the crowd to appreciate what they have and performing an acoustic version of ‘Saying It Now’, it was a truly beautiful moment that united the crowd and showed a different side to the band.

As they moved towards the end of their set their performance of ‘Kill The Power’ served as one of the most energetic of the night. There wasn’t a person in sight not dancing throughout the evening and, if anybody dared, you could guarantee Webbe would be pointing them out!

Overall, this was one of my favourite shows of the year and certainly a step up from their already brilliant Reading festival performance. Whether you’re a fan of the band’s music or just looking for a brilliant time, Skindred continue to tick all the boxes and I’m sure they’ll continue to do so for many more years.

Dan Whitehouse