Live Reviews

2024/03/16 – Skindred – o2 Academy, Birmingham

Review & Photos: G. Rossington.

You can always tell what kind of a show it is going to be by how big the queue to get in is. By the time the doors opened it was snaking around the corner up Holloway Head well on it’s way towards Bath Row. This remained the same well in to the opening act’s set. But saying that, who can blame the fans? Tonight’s Skindred set was incredibly highly anticipated. This is the final night of a mini 3-date tour of the UK and the night after their biggest headline show in the UK at Wembley Arena – all of which had Sold Out.

Welsh Rap/Rock legends Skindred arrived in to the Midlands’ Capital to play in support of last year’s album ‘Smile’. Last month they picked up the ‘Best Alternative’ Award at the MOBO’s on top of receiving multiple accolades for the release, Benji Webbe and Co are riding a complete high, arguably, one of the best of their career to date.

As Everything Unfolds kick off the show and run through a fevered set that is rapturously received. The venue is already filling up and seems to be at capacity, yet the audience are still rolling in tighter. ‘Slow Down’ and ‘Hiding From Myself’ open their short set. Frontwoman Charlie Rolfe is on fiery form as she prowls around the stage in confident fashion. ‘Flipside’ and ‘Felt Like Home’ are huge and get a great response from the audience. It is their set closer ‘On The Inside’ the sets the bar and various parts of the crowd calling for “one more song”.

The stage is swiftly reset and American heavyweights P.O.D. arrived on stage to blast their way through what essentially was a “Best of” setlist, not that there were any complaints from the capacity crowd. Kicking off with ‘Drop’, singer Sonny Sandoval bounds around the stage losing himself in the music. By the time ‘Boom’ plays, the crowd goes nuts as Benji Webbe gatecrashes and decides to mosh along with them before running off backstage.

‘Rock The Party (Off The Hook)’ sees Sandoval leave the stage and join the front rows on the barrier. ‘Soundboy Killa’, ‘Youth of The Nation’ and ‘Southtown’ engage the audience in to mini moshes with the band clearly enjoying the views. Final song ‘Alive’ almost takes the roof off of the Academy with the sheer volume from the audience. Just like that, the band say their goodbyes and the stage once again is cleared and reset.

As the lights dip in the venue, the intro to AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ pound out from the P.A. and causes the audience to sing along, warming themselves up for the main event of course. As the song fades out, the ‘Imperial March’ plays out and sees Mikey Demus (Guitars), Daniel Pugsley (Bass) and Arya Goggin (Drums) arrive on stage, taking positions ready for the off. They are followed moments later by Benji Webbe striding on stage bearing a huge Skindred branded black Union Jack. As he approaches the front of the stage he drapes it over the front rows and army of photographers before chuckling his head off and making his way to the mic.

‘Set Fazers’ opens the show tonight and sees the band off to a flying start. Benji again prowling around the stage, pointing and interacting with those in his eye sight. Having seen Skindred many times over the last few years, this is a band not only surfing the wave of critical acclaim they are currently on, but they are upping their own game. ‘Pressure’ arrives next and is interspersed with a snippet of AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ which Mikey Demus riffs out before Benji comes in with the vocals. ‘Rat Race’ completes the opening trilogy which fires up the audience even more. As the song fades out Benji sings the opening line of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ before letting the crowd carry on. He then interjects with a whimsical “Shut the f*** up! Are you trying to steal the show?”

Tracks from 2023’s ‘Smile’ both stood out and slotted in amongst the older material like old comforts. The booming ‘Set Fazers’, ‘If I Could’ and the gloriously Summer tinged ‘L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)’ sound phenomenal and really get the energy flowing. ‘Life That’s Free’ begins acoustically and turns in to a raging torrent that the packed venue get on board with. But it’s set closer ‘Gimme That Boom’ that catapults the band in to the next stratosphere.

Of course though, the band deliver a handful of classics too. ‘World’s On Fire’, ‘That’s My Jam’ and the mighty ‘Kill The Power’ rage out across the room, being sung back to the band with effervescence from the adoring crowd. As is typical with any Skindred show, Benji is in fine form throughout. Encouraging the crowd to mosh, create circle pits and hurling humorous insults towards the audience which just ends up being hysterical all around.

Mikey Demus and Daniel Pugsley deserve as much of the credit tonight as they power through the set with ease. Demus and Pugsley occasionally swapping sides of the stage to meet the adoring fans. But the hero of the set is Arya Goggin who keeps time, twirls drumsticks and quietly showboats at the back of the stage, keeping the beat going without hesitation.

The tempo lifts up with the penultimate song of the main set. Having had something of a “comeback” last year thanks to a TikTok trend, ‘Nobody’ blasts in to the fore and rocks the ears of the masses. We have the entertainment of more moshing and circle pits encapsulating the standing areas and every body is here for the best time. After the final track ‘Gimme That Boom’, the band leave the stage and leaves the audience calling for more.

To complete the high that Newport’s Rock Heroes are currently on, they return and launch in to ‘Our Religion’. This is a track that despite being less than 12 months old has hit a nerve with fans as it sums up exactly what this band are. After spending years as the underdogs, they are finally appear to be getting the recognition they very well deserve. The final song tonight as is standard with Benji and Co. is ‘Warning’. It started as a bit of fun a while ago, but seeing the majority of the audience undertake the “Newport Helicopter” is just spectacular. With a final bow and applause all-round, Skindred disappear in to the night and the room begins to dissipate.

With a number of festival appearances scheduled during the Summer, Skindred are continuing their high run in style. If you get the chance, do not hesitate to see them. A fantastic live band with tunes to back it up, Skindred are like ‘Nobody’ else and certainly are ‘Our Religion’.


Editor & Photographer. Eclectic music tastes and fan of a good beat. Can usually be found at a Gig across the Country or at a Festival in the Summer - More than likely with a camera surgically attached to me.