Lemon Grove (Exeter University), Exeter on Thu 5th May 2011

Bank holiday Monday and Exeter's Lemon Grove is full to capacity for Welsh ragga metal favourites Skindred. Tattooed bearded men drinking beer, sporting T-shirts of Metallica or Pantera and rock chicks with dyed hair and extensive amounts of jewellery mill around waiting for the opening acts who play what to the untrained ear is just heavy noise – I am a self confessed untrained ear. I hid outside for the support as it was all too much for me, that's not to say it was bad but it wasn't to my taste. Most of the audience at the Lemon Grove were approaching the music from its rock/metal side, whereas I was there because, although I enjoy the rock side of it, I adore the reggae and ragga aspect that the pay tribute to and I have a deep respect for the creative way Skindred construct songs with Benji Webbe's fantastic vocals abilities.

Self decribed as nu-reggae, a tongue in cheek reference to the nu metal phase of music Skindred are a crazy fusion of all that is Jamaican music and all that is hard rock. It is an unlikely combination but one that they pretty much have the sole rights too. Hitting the stage its easy to see why fans worship frontman Webbe as he seems like a very cool flamboyant character whilst still seeming to remain nice and down to earth. Wearing a suit and tie with sunglasses they launch into their set at high pace with Webbe gripping the mic and screaming his lyrics with as much gusto as he did back on the 2002 album 'Babylon'.

The Lemon Grove sound system is a rather tidy (and very expensive) bit of kit so artists should have a decent head start in sounding good but the nature of rock music with its loud distortion means that sounds levels are often erratic and frequencies unpredictable. Skindred's guitars only suffered from this only on a minor level but at times Wiebbe's excellent ragga style vocals were buried in the mix but then most of the punters were hardcore fans and new the lyrics anyway and joined in enthusiastically on Skindred classics 'Pressure' and 'Nobody'. In front of the stage mosh pit could only be described as friendly chaos as fans from 14-40 threw themselves at each other with the type wreck less abandon that I am happy to sit out on these days but nevertheless love to see.

Personally for me, and I am aware that I don't represent Skindred's target market, I wanted to hear a lot more from 'Union Black' the current album, especially the tracks with the dubstep influence. The album as a whole fuses more styles and sounds in ways that I have never heard from any other band and I was excited to hear how they translated to a live performance but sadly I unless it was due to the mix there wasn't a dubstep bass to be heard anywhere but there was some consolation of a drum and bass number which rocked the venue.

Perhaps the funniest moment of the whole gig was when singer Webbe started talking about love and the DJ played Rhianna's 'Only Girl In The World' – just to watch hundreds of hairy rockers get down to such and unlikely song was a memory I will take to my grave and its nice be reminded that south west audiences generally aren't too cool for school.

article by: Richard Potter

published: 05/05/2011 16:37

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