Raggamuffin Punk Stylee

Considering the amazing turnout for Skindred's set at the recent Download Festival I'm a little surprised that they haven't sold out the smallest of the Academy venues. There is still a very healthy turnout however; many no doubt relishing the chance to see the band perform a headline set rather than the shorter festival or support slot set.

The set starts in familiar style (if you've seen them recently) with 'Babylon' and as is normal with the Academy 3 the sound is great, which can make such a difference. As they plough through 'Start First' and 'Set It Off' the crowd is already well into it's bouncing stride. The appeal of Skindred lies as much in their performance as in their music, the whole set is presented in such a vibrant and energetic way that you can't help but smile and enjoy it. Benji is the perfect front man, full of energy, funny and endearing all at the same time. He hits on exactly the right combination of showmanship and crowd interaction and predictably everyone loves it!

Skindred manage to combine heavy riffs with uplifting melody to great effect, not least on 'Pressure' although tonight there are several false starts until Benji is happy that the crowds bouncing is of the required standard! If there's a criticism to be made it's that they have waited a long time to follow up their debut album 'Babylon' and whilst it's understandable why they chose to re-release it on the back of some success, it does mean that long term fans have been starved of new material. Thus it's great to hear Benji announce that they have been writing the new album but disappointing that they don't play any new material.

The crowd is great tonight and is with the band at every turn, no more so than during an outstanding version of 'Nobody', it has such a groove tonight it is easily the highlight of the set. Encore 'Bruises' is a timely reminder that when you forget about the fun that comes with a Skindred show, they really are an excellent and heavy band. Tight riffs, bouncing choruses and in your face vocals permeate throughout and there are no evident weaknesses.

Benji finishes the set with his now trademark Bontempi slot and even one of the bar staff collars me to tell me they are one of the best bands she's seen, she's not wrong.