It’s the hometown show of a sold-out tour for Skindred tonight, and the goths and greebos of Cardiff are in high spirits. It’s not uncommon for Skindred to sell out a Cardiff show, and tonight proves why they do it time and time again.
The Great Hall, Cardiff – 10 November 2023
Words and Photography: Georgia Brittain
As I show security my photo pass and enter the pit, I find myself greeted by frontman Benji Webbe himself hanging side of the stage to show support of the first bands on the bill. While not my first time meeting the man himself, I’m always astounded just by how down-to-earth and relaxed he is. It’s a welcoming surprise for a great night ahead.
Thanks to the warm-ups from Graphic Nature and Black Gold [see below], the crowd is absolutely pumped. Regular fans of Skindred know that the Imperial March remix is the welcome, and everyone is already singing along.
We’re treated to an opener of Set Fazers from Skindred’s new album Smile, which I was secretly praying would be the opener. Everyone is jumping along, and the band are sharing their high energy. I always find myself incredibly impressed with how these guys sound live compared to recordings, as well as Benji’s ability to jump and sing around in these extravagant outfits of his that must be producing more sweat than a… well… I’ll let you finish this sentence.
You can see Benji’s charisma and appreciation for his fans from his interaction with the crowd. There is not a single person he fails to make laugh. He really is a refreshing personality to watch, especially when it comes to live music.
The only thing I find myself disappointed with tonight is the atmosphere of the crowd. While the mosh pit is bouncing all night, the sides and back are a little still. Unfortunately, I can’t move in with the action carrying all my camera equipment, and the sold-out show is so packed out I probably wouldn’t be able to move in any way.
My only explanation for this is due to the Skindred fanbase being full of an older crowd (this isn’t a bad thing), and I confirm this in my own mind when the newer songs are played and most around me are talking amongst themselves.
It’s a shame they don’t give the newer songs a chance because they’re just as good as Skindred’s earlier discography. Gimme That Boom proves this, with it not only becoming my new favourite song to hear live, but the beat stops every ‘gig chatter’ in their conversation to pay attention to what’s being played.
Finally, we’re ending on Warning, nothing new for anyone in the crowd. The Newport Helicopter started early. Some just got far too excited.
If you have never seen Skindred before and happen to come across them at any gig or festival, I highly recommend watching them. Not only to have probably some of the most fun you’ll ever have at a gig but simply to experience hundreds of people spinning their shirts in the air, donning it The Newport Helicopter.
You may be thinking, Hey, that sounds stupid. But I promise you, it’s an experience. And not only that, but the breeze from hundreds of people spinning their shirts in time with each other? What a relief for a sold-out, sweaty crowd.
And that marks the end of the night for Skindred. Everyone is smiling and saying how it’s yet another incredible show. I joined the punters heading to Cardiff’s own Fuel Rock Club, ready to wait for Benji Webbe to arrive and throw us one of his legendary DJ sets. Time for shots!
First up, we have Graphic Nature. I won’t lie. The intros of each song have me confused about the musical direction of the band. Don’t mistake this as a bad thing, though, because as soon as the instruments kick in, you can tell these guys are heavy as shit.
The sound of the bass is so deep it makes me realise where my bad hearing has come from (wear earplugs in the photo pit; don’t be like me!).
The crowd is eating everything that Graphic Nature feeds them. As I watch the rest of the set from the back, I notice the venue is packed out already, and all eyes are on them.
Frontman Harvey Freeman demands the crowd get down, ready to jump for the next song, proclaiming, “No one is too cool for this”. It’s an ambitious move for a first band, but low and behold, the front and mosh pits get down on the ground, ready to jump.
Consider me highly impressed. All in all, it’s a great opening band. With a headline show in The Underworld coming up, I can see this band going far.
Next up were BLACKGOLD. The band come out in stage outfits, donning masks and full-body tracksuits, and I can’t help but notice the crew make the same effort.
With my favourite band being Avatar, who also do band and crew in stage outfits, I can’t help but appreciate it. The only thing letting these guys down is the lighting. It did take me at least two songs to notice the get-ups. The show is entirely red lights, backlit, and I can hardly see shit – this is only a little biased towards my photography struggles with lighting, honest.
It absolutely works with the atmosphere the band are going for, though, adding to the “mystery” of the show.
The band have clearly brought their own fans as from the opening song, It’s Art, I can hear people behind me singing along. By the fourth song, everyone has their hands up on command, and I can’t seem to find anyone not at least nodding their head.
They’re definitely a band you would expect Skindred to bring on tour with them when it comes to musicality. From the response from the punters, it wasn’t a wrong choice. Suddenly, the last song, Boogeyman, is announced, and I can’t help but think they were over far too fast.