Tonight sees ragga punk rockers Skindred play to a sold out Rock City. With the queue meandering down the street and across the road, it takes a long time to usher people through the bottle necked entrance. Because of this, openers Danko Jones take to the stage 15 minutes after doors open, to a rather lacking crowd.
The three piece play their smooth rock grooves to the audience with energy and enthusiasm. Unfortunately the majority of onlookers seem insistant on saving any energy for the headliners. Bassist John ‘JC’ Calabrese tries valiantly to get people involved with numerous attempts at clapping. The lack of response does nothing to dampen his or his bandmates – drummer Rich Knox and guitarist / singer and namesake Danko Jones – who continue on high energy for the entirety of the 35 minute set. The band are on perfect form, stomping through songs such as ‘Gonna Be A Fight Tonight’ and ‘Had Enough’. As the set progresses the filling room become more engaged, and after a pep talk from Danko himself, the opening riff to ‘Lovercall’ is treated with a big reaction. From lackluster to raucous, the massive applause to close out the set shows that Danko Jones may not have won the crowd over straight away with their music, but adding a little charm and banter goes a long way.
With chants of ‘CKY. CKY. CKY’ erupting before the first band have left the stage, it’s easy to see that the main support have definitely drawn their own crowd tonight. Kicking off their set with ‘The Human Drive In Hi-Fi’, CKY storm their way through the 10 song setlist. ‘Replaceable’ – taken from their most recent album The Phoenix – sees the first, but definitely not the last crowd surfer of the night. CKY bring funky stompy rock, but even with the audience swelling to capacity, the room still holds back. Fist pumping and head nodding the only precious energy most are willing to exhude. ‘Head For A Breakdown’ mellows out the pace, with guitarist / vocalist Chad I Ginsburg opening with old school Metallica-esqe riffs, backed up by drummer Jess Margera and bassist Matt Deis. CKY end the set with their own rendition of GG Allin’s ‘Bite It You Scum’, to a content and buzzing crowd.
After an obnoxiously long into, featuring the entirety of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, and a funky remix of the Imperial March, Skindred burst onto the stage with a flurish. Opening with the title track to their new album ‘Big Tings’, instantly the crowd is a mass of limbs in a sea of sweat. The one-two punch of ‘Selector’ and ‘Pressure’ whips the room into a frenzy, feet off the ground as often as they are on. Frontman Benji Webbe exhudes showmanship, with sparkly costume changes and a brilliantly comedic patter, he has the whole sold out crowd in the palm of his hand.
The audience is split down the middle for ‘That’s My Jam’, ‘woop, woop’ing and ‘that’s my jam’ing along to the chorus, a great way to keep the energy up for the recently released single. A change of tempo and emotion comes in the form of ‘Saying It Now’, written about a friend who passed away after a battle with cancer, Webbe insists that everyone should make time to mend bridges and reach out to old friends before it’s too late. Lethargy isn’t an issue as the end of the night draws near, with the massive ‘Kill The Power’ and ‘Nobody’ rounding off the set.
But of course, any Skindred fan knows it’s not a Skindred show unless the clothes come off and the Newport Helicopters come out. So after another quick costume change Webbe and the rest of the band – dapper bassist Daniel Pugsley, drummer Arya ‘not-the-Stark-kind’ Goggin and guitarist / ZZ Top lookalike Michael Fry are back for a three song encore. They finish the night with the iconic – if only for the creation of the Newport Helicopter – ‘Warning’.