Rock City Nottingham 24th January 2014.

Rock City bound tonight and strangely, I’ve missed this legendary place. I know it’s not been that long, but you get attached and in this case, for good reason. The gigs that are held here are always going to be special and tonight was no exception.

Since I last saw Skindred at Hard Rock Hell, their profile has exploded and they have been featured EVERYWHERE! You name it, they’re in it, why, because these veteran’s from South Wales have a new album out, called “Kill The Power”. I finally got my copy through the post this weekend (paid for) and it features some real classic Skindred gems. This, however is a live gig review and not an album review, so first support band tonight are Viza.

I first came into contact with Viza at Hammerfest V, in 2013, I’m starting to see a pattern emerging here, anyway, I digress. For me they were a real stand out act from that festival, simply for the fact that their sound was so fresh, flamboyant and energetic, but above all, their live show was so much fun. As stated then, Serj Tankian has also seen these qualities in the band and things have really picked up for these guys around 2011, but they have been around since 2006. Also with a new album, titled ARIA, on the horizon, available to “Pre-Order” now. Can I just say, I understand why bands need to offer their music up for pre-order, what with recording costs etc. but it really gets on my nerves, having to wait for new music.

Tonight’s set list was a 50/50 split between tracks off the new album, ‘Viktor Vangard’, ‘Vanished’, ‘Midnight Hour’, ‘Forward March’ and old favourites, ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Trans-Siberian Standoff’, ‘Whiskey Bar’ and ‘In coins’. I personally loved tonight’s set and the guys on stage seemed to be in fine form, but for the majority of people that could get to the venue in time to see them perform, they were a relatively unheard of act. This, I’m sure will all change after this tour, as they are a great live act and I can confirm that by the end of tonight, everyone in attendance was pleasantly surprised.


Next up were a very well thought of and much loved act, SOIL. Hailing from Chicago City –USA, these guys optimise everything that is good in Hard Rock and Metal and are a true endorsement to the Genre. Tonight was my first time seeing the band live, it also transpired that lead singer Ryan McCombs hasn’t played a show in Nottingham in over 17 years, as he announced to the ever increasing crowd. Tonight’s set had everything, energy, emotion, power, showmanship and above all full throttle metal music.


At one point, the crowd started to call out for one of this bands biggest hits ‘Halo’, but Ryan stated that if we do that song now, then they’d have to leave the stage and asked ‘Do you want that?’, “NO” was the crowds reply, so they continued. Set list consisted of ‘Loaded Gun’, ‘Breaking me Down’, ‘Shine On’, ‘Need to Feel’, ‘Redefine’, ‘Hate Sons’, ‘Unreal’, ‘Black Betty’ (A Ram Jam cover that only just got released in the UK, apparently) and finally ‘Halo’. Before the final track, McCombs addressed the crowd stating “The music starts with you, ends with you and is all possible because of you, so thank you” then got down off the stage, took a giant swig of beer and proceeded into the centre of the crowd, with his mic/staff held aloft so people could see where he was and much to the crowds delight, he joined the mosh pit whilst continuing to sing the song. SOIL also have a new album out, titled “Whole” which is now on my to purchase list!


SKINDRED……..I’m such a huge fan of this band, tonight and tonight I’m feeling very fortunate and grateful to be seeing them for the second time in less than 6months. People on the guest list got called cheap c**ts, which was fair hahaha, however now that the album “Kill the Power” has been officially released, I was intrigued to see how the set compared or differed from Hard Rock Hell. ‘Thunderstruck’ (AC/DC) got the crowd going and the ‘Imperial March’ was strangely the perfect walk on song. It was re-assuring to see Benji’s outfits haven’t calmed down, nor has his larger than life personality, and he is, without a doubt one of the best front men and voices on the planet! Tonight the pit was rammed, which was no surprise, as these guys are big news, but what was a surprise – we got to photograph four tracks, which has never happened to me a Rock City before, so this truly was a special night. There is no disputing Rock City’s legendary status, but the lighting at times is questionable, it seems Skindred weren’t going to take the risk and decided to bring their own lighting stands and strobes, strong enough to melt ya face off!


Throughout the set Benji interacted with the crowd in the only way he knows how to, he abuses them, yet the crowd love him for it. He told one quite beautiful girl to cheer up, you’ve got a face like a smacked arse, nobody is coming on after us, which cheered me up at least lol.


Benji does have a very warmer side to him which he showed tonight, stating Skindred have played Nottingham many times over the years and see the City as a second home. Tonight really was a great night and the first show for many in 2014, and what a way to start off the year – we even had a crowd surfer! Everyman and his dog were in attendance and it made for an awesome show. Check out the remaining tour dates, as this truly is one tour not to be missed! A special “Happy Birthday” goes out to Skindred drummer, Arya Goggin, who’s birthday was on the Sunday, after tonight’s show.


Set list consisted of:  1.Rat Race  2.Stand for Something  3.Doom Riff  4.Ninja  5.State of Emergency  6.Selector  7.Cut Dem  8.Bruises  9.Babylon / Niggas in Paris/ Intergalactic/ Jump Around/ Don’t Stop Me Now/ Omen/ We Will Rock You  10.Kill the Power  11.Worlds on Fire  12.Trouble / Sad But True (cover) 13.Pressure  14.Saturday with “Take the Power Back” snippet by Rage Against the Machine and 15.Nobody. The Encore consisted of 1.We Live  2.Warning [With “Toxicity” snippet by System of a Down] and 3.Nobody Does It Better.

Words and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)