Maid Of Stone Festival – Sunday. On most occasions, a band would not necessarily want to follow that Phil Campbell performance, but Skindred had no option. Yet this is Skindred. Perhaps there were some in Mote Park, perhaps some of the older punters, who had not encountered them before, and there were certainly people unsure what to expect. What to expect was a full-on 100 mph Skindred show.
Entering to the familiar Imperial March from Star Wars and completely unperturbed about what had gone before, lead singer Benji took the afternoon and turned it on its head. If people did not know what to expect, then they were about to find out in more ways than one. For those that did, well, they were already up to the front of the stage, ready to surf and mosh with their t-shirts off and in hand.
Like many of the bands this afternoon, it was clear that Skindred were here for a good time and intent on winning over everyone with their ragga-influenced rock and Metal sound. These are a band who are absolutely brilliant at crossing cultures, with the grinding Metal guitars and Benji’s dance, ragga and rap-laden delivery.
Standing to the front of the stage with his Black and White Union flag, referencing the different multi-racial and cultural elements within the band, their influences and their music, Benji orchestrated the audience from start to finish. He is not one to hold back and throws everything into his performance, whether it’s fast rapping delivery or pure Heavy Metal, throwing in some more dancy night club style hip hop flavas or even a bit of indie rock.
An impromptu singalong of Oasis Wonderwall ended with him telling the audience where to go in no uncertain terms whilst laughing his head off. Yet Skindred are not a gimmick band. They more than have the musicianship and the songs.
With songs like Nobody, they had the audience bouncing and jumping as though in a nightclub, not early evening in Mote Park. But who cared? Everyone was having such a good time. That’s My Jam, a new song, followed suit. Who cared if you knew the song or not, which most of us didn’t?
It settled straight into the set as though it had always been there, and this was a song that had a very heavy ragga vibe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mosh to it either, as they showed by interjecting a few riffs of Back In Black into it. Crossing the best of all cultures, that’s what it’s all about, and simply pretty much everyone in Mote Park was ‘getting it’.
With another new number L.O.V.E. (Smile Please) – they tell you all about the ‘isms but not about Love – everyone was embracing the good time feel. Benji was stalking the stage, arms raised and waving and conducting the audience into another dance frenzy. Whoever thought I’d write that for a Metal show?
Getting everyone to crouch down onto the floor, the opening keyboard refrain of Van Halen’s Jump previewed the ever-popular Kill The Power, which saw a surge in moshing and leaping around ensuing. Another old favourite, Nobody and then another new number Gimme That Boom followed.
There was no let up in the band delivery or Benji’s approach as he changed clothes, donning a jacket proclaiming ‘Unity’ and sunglasses the like of which Elton John in his heyday would have been proud of with the word BOOM proclaimed across them.
Then somehow, we are at the end of the set, Warning breaks out across the speakers, and the t-shirts are above everyone’s heads. “Not until I tell you,” yells Benji, or words close to that. But too late, and forgive the pun, the Newport Helicopter is in full swing.
That was one helluva performance. The dazed expressions from so many of the audience as they walked away, big grins on their faces, bad dance moves still afoot, and a few flying t-shirts still swinging outlined what a good time they had.
I hate to tell the younger rock fans who think that Skindred are for them, but on this performance and reaction, you may have to share a pit with a few more wrinkles in future.
Maid Of Stone Festival 2023 was held over the weekend of 21-23 July 2023. MetalTalk’s Adrian Stonley, Paul Monkhouse and Robert Sutton were reporting from Mote Park.
All Photography: Robert Sutton
Early Bird tickets are available for next year’s festival held over 19-21 July 2024. Tickets are available from here.
All MetalTalk Maid Of Stone 2023 coverage is at https://www.metaltalk.net/tag/maid-of-stone-festival-2023