THE UNDERWORLD, LONDON Britain’s feelgood firestarters bring some seasonal cheer
“Welcome to the Skindred Xmas party. Are you ready to party? I SAID, ARE YOU READY TO PARTY?!” Benji Webbe leaves nobody in any doubt what’s going to happen tonight. Skindred are out to have a great time, and take everyone in the packed venue with them. It is like trying to put a gallon into a pint pot. This is a band who can fill Brixton Academy, so to see them playing a club is weird, but going back to their roots works brilliantly for all who love Skindred. The atmosphere is electrifying, with fans happily singing along without any need for prompting.
Benji himself brings to mind Dee Snider in the days when Twisted Sister were doing club shows. Or Noddy Holder during his Slade prime. The latter certainly springs to mind when the frontman leads the whole audience into a rendition of Merry Christmas Everybody before breaking into Rat Race. This isn’t the only time the band delve into someone else’s music, as AC/DC’s Back In Black is briefly referenced during Pressure, while The Prodigy’s Out Of Space is celebrated during the middle of Kill The Power.
The entire gig has a joyous feel. Skindred do belong on much bigger stages, but they absolutely embrace the occasion, clearly revelling in being so close to the crowd. And when Benji exhorts fans to rip off their t-shirts and do the Newport Helicopter during encore Warning, the place is awash with sweat-soaked shirts being whirled above heads. Every song here is a natural anthem, emphasising that Skindred are peerless at writing music that makes you move and groove. This is the best gig of 2018. If you were there you know this to be true. If you weren’t, you’ve now been told!
Benji Webbe: master ofseasonal ceremonies