Skindred, the ragga-metal kings, are not a band renowned for their subtlety, but perhaps the most affecting moment of this gig comes towards the end of the main set.
Alone on the stage, frontman Benji Webbe tells the story of how his friend died of cancer before he got to see him one last time. He’s joined by guitarist Mikey Demus on an acoustic guitar for a stripped down and touching rendition of Saying It Now. Perhaps it’s because of its incongruous nature that it stands out so much.
The rest of the set cleaves more to the band’s usual type - massive riffs from Mikey, hip-hop influenced drums from Arya Goggin, while bassist Daniel Pugsley deftly holds it all together, stage right.
And of course there’s Benji, the ‘ringmaster of disaster.’ The charismatic frontman is their not-so-secret weapon. Slipping from metal barking, to ragga-toasting, with the occasional croon, he’s got the pipes, but he’s also got the patter – working the crowd from the moment the band comes on stage and launches into the raucous new album title track Big Tings.
READ MORE: Our interview with frontman Benji Webbe
This sold out audience is treated to a masterclass in crowd control. They cherry-pick songs from six of their seven albums, not leaning too heavily on any one period of their 20 year history.
Benji is a veritable pied-piper - by the second song, Selector he’s got the crowd doing call-and-response chants, by the third song, Pressure, including a brief snatch of AC/DC’s Back In Black, he’s got the whole place jumping.
A suitably in your face Kill The Power - complete with obligatory Trump reference, and the funk of recent single That’s My Jam provide highlights.
But it’s sole encore Warning that takes it to the next level. Starting off by getting the whole crowd to crouch down before exploding as Demus’s riff kicks in, this is the song where we get to see the legendary Newport Helicopter - as the song comes to a climax, Webbe urges the crowd to swing their shirts above their heads. It’s quite a sight in a compact venue.
As the song’s final notes fade, Carly Simon’s Bond theme Nobody Does It Better comes over the PA.
It’s cheeky, but yeah, they’ve earned it.