Review: Skindred – Lemon Grove, Exeter

Skindred/Raging Speedhorn/Sanguine – Lemon Grove, Exeter If I were to list bands that I have had the pleasure of seeing live, in order of number of times seen, right at the top of the list would be Skindred! I have seen them on the main stage at Download with tens of thousands doing the Newport Helicopter, on an acoustic stage, and in small, local venues around the South West, and they never fail to leave the audience hot, sweaty, and smiling. Tonight I caught them at the Lemon Grove, a great little venue that forms part of Exeter University, along with Raging Speedhorn and Sanguine. Up first were local four piece Sanguine, fronted by the pneumatic and lively Tarin Kerrey. Packing a sensational voice, with both range and depth (it is no surprise that the band started out with a more prog rock sound), and backed by a much more guttural vocal from guitarist Nick Magee, she took the band through a set that included songs from latest album ‘Black Sheep’, such as ‘Breaking Out’ and ‘Pretty Girl’, as well as a few from earlier album “Sanguine”. A cracking cover of ‘Rebel Yell’ made an appearance, and it was clear that the audience loved what they were hearing, with the front rows particularly animated. Bassist, Ross Andrew and drummer, Matt Feld kept things tight and on track. The set came to an end with ‘Social Delay’ (or rather it didn’t, because Sanguine were having such a great time in front of their home crowd, they played over time, and the road crew were literally dismantling their gear as they gamely tried to get through one last song!). Definitely a band I would like to see more of. Once Sanguine had been persuaded to leave the stage, we were quickly onto the blitzkrieg of Raging Speedhorn. Led by twin vocalists John Laughlin and Frank Regan, they launched into a frenetic set with ‘Hate Song’. The stage was rammed, with twin guitarists Jim Palmer and Jamie Thompson, as well as bassist Dave Thompson, all filling the front line, alongside the alternating screamers. The crowd loved the energy and dynamism, and from the pit, it was clear that security were busy. From ‘Hate Song’ they moved through ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ and ‘Motörhead’ with frenetic speed. Just in case the crowd were not animated enough, they were joined by one of the guitarists, throwing himself into the throng. Drummer Gordon Morrison was a laid back, smiling sticksman at the rear as they climax with ‘Voodooman’ and ‘Ten Of Swords’, and their brief set was over… but not soon to be forgotten. Skindred know how to raise an audience to a fever pitch, even before they hit the stage. The lights went down, and AC/CD’s ‘Thunderstruck’ blasted out of the speakers. Even the ‘togs in the pit were smiling and full of anticipation. ‘Thunderstruck’ ended, and ‘The Imperial March’ took its place… and off we go. A Skindred set now is pretty much a ‘best of’ set. They opened with ‘Under Attack’, and Benji Webbe had the crowd in the palm of his hand from his stage riser. Sporting his traditional shades, he is surely one of the best front men is rock at the moment, a true master of his craft. ‘Rat Race’ followed, and then it was the turn of guitarist Mikey Demus to lead the proceedings with the awesome ‘Doom Riff’. As the wailing guitar led off, the drums of Arya Goggins beat out a tattoo of rhythm, and in one song it was clear what Skindred are about. They have a style that is unique. Reggae influences, dance grooves, metal riffs, complex rhythms… all in just one song sometimes! ‘Sound The Siren’, and one of my favourites, ‘Pressure’ followed, as always, interspersed with riffs about the DJs taste in music and getting the crowd to “Jump Around”, and then ‘Trouble’ raised the energy to yet another level. Another of the things that mark out a great band from an average one… having got the crowd to such a high level, Benji and Mikey brought it right down with the beautiful and haunting ‘Saying It Now’. Benji’s intro to this song was truly tear-jerking. He talked about losing a good friend, and never taking the time to see him before he died. Sometimes, slow songs in sets sound false and commercial, but this felt genuine and something he needed to say… almost as an apology. Bassist Dan returned, to the stage and it was levels back to 11 for ‘Kill The Power’ and ‘Nobody’, two of the most powerful songs on my ‘play it loud’ playlist. The set closer was a given, it had to be ‘Warning’, and Skindred party-piece, the Newport Helicopter. I’ve never seen this from the bands point of view, and the opportunity to do so tonight from the side of the stage was a great demonstration of just what a rush it must be to play before a rabid metal crowd like this, clothing whirling, and people bouncing in a spray of sweat and hair. ‘Nobody Does It Better’ played the band off stage, and I watched the crowd drift away. My ears were ringing. My jaw ached from smiling so much, and my voice was croaking from singing along… and I was only there to take photos!! Review and Photography: Rob Wilkins [gallery type='flickr' user_id='132278830@N06' view='photosets' photoset_id='72157675087409861' columns='3' tag_mode='any' sort='date-posted-desc' per_page='37' layout='random' ]]]>

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