Skindred - The Mill Preston - 23.9.05

Ten years ago Benji sang with his old band Dubwar at the Mill (older readers will recall the magnificent "Strike It" single). Returning to the same venue with his latest incarnation Skindred, age hasn't mellowed the portly pint sized frontman who recently blew away the competition on the Reel Big Fish tour. Even though the venue is just over half full we're in for an unforgettable performance from one of the most underrated bands on the live circuit. Coming on to a dance version of the Star Wars theme Skindred waste no time at showing Preston what they're made of.

The guitarist is surrounded by a glittering array of effects pedals, Benji plays with his tiny keyboard and presses the right buttons on the sequencers for the beat driven mix of ragga punk, rap and onslaught of metal which is a successful concoction and makes for one hell of a show. Their debut album "Babylon" is relaunched on October 10th so to hear a lot of these tracks live mere weeks before the release date raises the anticipation even more. Benji's vocal is unmistakable. His scatter-gun delivery is performed with power and determination as he commands attention and respect rom the crowd, bouncing around shaking his dreads and confronting anyone who doesn't go crazy enough when they're playing with so much raw, undiluted strength.

"Pump It Up" rattles along like a runaway train with the musicians rocking out without breaking even a sweat. "World Domination" is not just a songtitle, it's a manifesto for the future. Ambitious, loud, proud, unapologetic and so concise. The guitarist may appear mild mannered but looks can be deceiving, he's a wild axeman making everything look so easy as his solos and riffs govern his status.

"Break It Up" is the first song the band ever wrote and hearing it again tonight, the freshness and savage rage it evokes sounds even harsher than ever. New single "Nobody Out" has the fans at the front swinging along word perfect. Imagine them on Top Of The Pops, it would make Fern Cottons hair curl. Stranger things have happened before and when the band have left Benji remains for some ironic keyboard demonstration which shows a lighter side to the leader of Skindred, thanking everyone for coming, giving a cheeky wink and  leaving to a roar from the crowd and deafening cry of Skindred.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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