Skindred - Live at the Coventry Empire, 31st October 2018

The crowd were packed in like sardines as the PA played the usual mix of classics from the likes of Queen, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC. The lights dimmed before Skindred burst onto the stage with their own unique blend of heavy rock, hardcore punk rock and reggae.  There was only one song they could start the night with. That was the highly acclaimed title track from their new album BIG TING’s. This was going to be a night of high energy sound and the fans loved it.


With the temperature rising, the band moved onto the classic tracks Selector followed by Pressure with a few chords of AC/DC thrown in for good measure before moving onto Rat Race.  The energy moved up another gear as Mickey introduced the massive hit single Machine. The place was truly bouncing by now with the thunderous sound from Ayra’s drums and the pounding bass from Dan. Benji’s vocals were pitchperfect as he worked the crowd like a magician whilst waving his black and white union jack flag around, which was tied to his microphone stand.  


Having spent his summer holiday in the late 70’s at his grandparents’ house in Coventry, Benji explained how that experience along with a diet of The Specials had shaped his life. That early introduction to SKA was when he first said he wanted to be in a band. He declared his total love for the city of Coventry as his second home, to which the crowd loudly approved. 


Crashing into Ninja, Sound the Siren and That’s My Jam with a little California thrown in for good measure you could see the first fans falling victim of the relentless energy feast as they were passed over head to the pit in front of the stage. We were treated to a spine chilling acoustic rendition of Saying It Now with just Mikey and Benji allowing the atmosphere to cool a little and the pumped up fans to chill for a while. 


Then it was crank it up again as the band played their way through Kill The Power, Destroy The Dancefloor and Nobody. Then the moment every one was waiting for as Benji asks the crowd to raise their T-shirts above their heads. There is only one thing for it as the band slam into the final number Warning, which is accompanied by the ritual Newport helicopter. Every member of the audience is franticly twirling their shirts around above their heads until the final cords fade and the night is over. 


If you have never been to a Skindred show, then treat yourself. It is a total party from start to finish and you will leave wanting more. So that is the first gig of the tour over, only another 31 to go before Christmas. 


Words & photos - Martin Woodbridge