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Photo: Skindred’s Facebook

Skindred have been labeled as one of the greatest live bands on the circuit in every review from back when they were playing the tiny and now extinct Southampton Nexus years ago. Now they take on the city’s biggest venue – the O2 Guildhall – but even a stage of this size can’t contain their gargantuan tunes.

It was obvious that Skindred were going to get to this stage one day but the music industry has a way of taking it’s time. A lot of people would normally complain about the loss of intimacy when bands go from gigs at Southampton’s Talking Heads to a huge room like this but there’s no sign of complaints tonight; it’s clear that this is the size that fits Skindred and they’ve grown into it nicely. Opener ‘Under Attack’, from new album Volume, sounds absolutely colossal and the opening riff could blow the roof off Wembley, let alone the Guildhall. Singer Benji Webbe struts the stage as if he’d just bought it with his spare change as he spits his ragga-venom lyrics and with a simple wave of his hand he can have the crowd jumping until their legs snap or singing until their voices give in. He’s one of the most controlling frontmen since Freddie Mercury, that’s for sure.

What ultimately makes a Skindred gig great is how much fun you can have to their songs. If you want to mosh like the only person on coke at a Black Flag gig then you have tracks like ‘Roots Rock Riot’ thrown in, or if you just fancy shaking your tail feathers a bit then they throw in clubby tunes like new song ‘Sound The Siren’.

The band’s back catalogue is strong enough that it can transition onto the big stage and only sound more fitting. Skindred prove this with a varied set list; highlights of which include the more obvious tracks like ‘Trouble’, ‘Ratrace’, ‘Pressure’ and ‘Nobody’, as well as surprises like ‘Cause Ah Riot’ and encore opener ‘Playing With The Devil’.

“We’ve been doing this something like 15 years, and we’re still not sick of it, it’s only the beginning” announces Webbe to cheers of delight. You’d be a fool not to believe him. There are people here tonight who have seen them come from rooms the size of your lounge and they’ll laugh in your face if you tell them Skindred can’t headline arenas one day.

Jack King @JacKingy

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