Vinilo Record Store & O2 Guildhall Southampton

Skindred are currently riding a well-deserved crest of a wave after their latest album “Smile” achieved number two in the charts. The publicity generated this year has seen the band headline the second stage at the Download Festival, they appeared on Jools Holland’s Later TV Show and have achieved a sold-out tour of the UK. With further shows in March including a date at Wembley Arena and a trip to Las Vegas to appear at the Sick New World Festival, there seems to be no halting the band’s momentum. Today they are in Southampton for a gig at the O2 Guildhall, however before this they have the small matter of a meet and greet and an intimate acoustic gig at the Vinilo Record store for just a handful of lucky fans.

Benji & Mikey arrive onto the tiny stage and are greeted with a huge cheer by the fortunate few, just for a change Benji is in a talkative mood and waxes lyrical with a few stories about the background to some of the songs. He is like a comedian and keeps everybody engrossed with his hilarious ramblings. These stories include being followed around Asda while shopping and being told to turn his music down while in the bath by his next door neighbour.

We are treated to acoustic renditions of “Pressure”, “Gimmie That Boom”, “L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)” and “Warning” featuring a few verses of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved”. It is such a thrill to see these guys up close and it is a wonderfully unforgettable experience to have. Bassist Daniel Pugsley and drummer Arya Goggin arrive to complete the experience with an up close and personal meet & greet session. The band are relaxed and seem to be more than happy to chat to fans and stay until everyone has their album signed. My excited son and I leave the place grinning from ear to ear after such a special experience, one that we both will not forget in a long time.


After killing some time in Southampton watching the Diwali celebrations in the West Quay shopping centre and a tasty trip to Pizza Hut, it was time to head to the O2 Guildhall. We arrived about an hour before doors open and were greeted with a queue shorter than the one at the record store. I am so glad we turned up early as we met some great people there including a lovely family who have brought their Nan to see Skindred for her 10th time! The time passed by so quickly as we all chatted about our various gig experiences over the years. The doors soon opened and we were both fortunate to take our place on the front row barrier with our newly made friends.

After about a forty-minute wait and with a capacity crowd now behind us the music started with the first support act Graphic Nature. The 5-piece Metal band arrive on stage and explode with copious amounts of energy; lead singer Harvey Freeman is on the crowd’s back from the off, whipping them up. His snarling lyrics coupled with some rib-rattling rhythms and some utterly unforgiving guitar riffs start as they mean to go on. The powerful “Chokehold” does the trick and the crowd start to move, a few isolated pits respond to the band’s growing momentum. With equal amounts of aggression and enthusiasm the band show their Nu-Metal and Hardcore influences. “Sour” is an amalgamation of thunderous ground shattering percussion and a pair of loud distorted guitars. Their sound seems to come from a host of different areas from the Deftones, to Limp Bizkit and of course the mighty Slipknot amongst others. Proceedings ended with “Killing Floor”, a track written from the perspective of a wannabe serial killer and one that delivers many killer blows with the commanding instrumentation and dynamically graphic lyrics.

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Next up are Blackgold; a band who’s backgrounds are shrouded in secrecy, with the mysteriously masked 5-piece even colouring their own skin tones to hide their ethnicity – even the bands entourage are wearing masks… All that has been made public is that they are from London and have scraped themselves together from the criminal underworld to finally bring some respect to themselves. Their aim is to bring back in a big way Nu-Metal and give bands like “Korn” and “Cypress Hill” as influences. Entering the stage, the band’s lead singer Spookz with his swagger seems to be all about having much-needed amounts of monstrous fun. The band’s wall of sound comes from many different places, and I liken them to a Nu Metal version of 80/90’s band “Pop will Eat Itself”. With the DJ’s creating loops, coupled with melodic guitar; peppered with constant rhythms along with sung and rapped music, their track “On Another Level” really gives the best introduction to where the band are really coming from.

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They are an exciting bunch to watch live, there is so much going on to enjoy and it is so easy to get caught up into their infectious momentum. We get a great cover of Cypress Hill’s “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” and “Freak” which calls for “more energy, more passion” featuring a dance breakdown. The band say they want to rewind the clock to the golden age of Nu-Metal and take the power back from the industry tyrants. Their goals are big and their performance tonight certainly showed that these ex-cons mean business.

Ok yes it has been a long day; as a 53-year-old man I am feeling a bit weary, however the sound of the Imperial March is all I need to recover the energy levels by giving an adrenaline rush to mark the arrival of the mighty headliners. I have personally been following this band for a long time and have seen them play many times in various settings, my son too is a huge fan after seeing them at Reading Festival in 2013. It is a band that we both agree upon, an act that always gives their all and never disappoints. Opening with “Set Fazers” from the new album the band effortlessly whip up the crowd from the first note. As each familiar track is played I get that euphoric feeling I only get from a band that you have been on a journey with, knowing every word to every song. Though I know they’re songs there is always an unpredictability as vivacious lead singer Benji mixes things up a bit. We get a bit of sarcastic “Wonderwall” and a bit of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”. You can never say that this band are not entertainers, they have got to this point by working hard on not only their music but how they come across.

You cannot fault the musicianship in this band with Mikey Demus supplying some skilfully creative and unique guitar riffs, while the rhythm section of Arya Goggin on drums and Southampton born Daniel Pugsley supply the excellent backing. Their aim is to make everyone leave the gig with their songs ringing in their ears and the bands unity streaming through their hearts. Talking of love and unity the band’s recent single “L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)”; which is quite a departure from anything they have done before, sends out this message loud and clear. The audience sing this simple infectious number together and have a beautiful moment of unity, with everyone singing together.

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During a heart-wrenching serious moment Benji tells us that his son has a problem with drugs, and he currently does not know his whereabouts. He then dedicates “Life is Free” to him with some passionately powerful lyrics that deliver a positive message. The whole reason this band is together recalls a moment in the 1970’s when a band from Coventry called The Specials appeared on TV. The band featured black and white members performing together and this inspiration was the seed that started with “Dub War” and then “Skindred”. The Skindred jukebox is relentless and tonight’s set is for some reason longer that most other nights of the tour, the band keep saying that the reaction from tonight’s Southampton crowd is off the scale. For some unknown reason the band have a connection with the town since playing their first gig at the now demolished “Nexus” many years ago. For band’s final number “Warning”, Blackgold’s frontman is invited back to the stage to join in with the vocals. The rest of the band arrive on stage in time to join in with the now world famous ‘Newport Helicopter’, bringing to a close a really special experience with this band and one that I personally will cherish for a long time to come.

Set lists
Skindred – Vinilo Record Store
Gimme That Boom
L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)

Skindred- O2 Guildhall
Intro: The Imperial March (John Williams cover)
Set Fazers
Pressure / Back in Black
Rat Race / Wonderwall
World’s on Fire
Hot in Herre (Nelly cover)
That’s My Jam
Rude Boy for Life
Ease Up
State of Emergency
The Appointed
L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)
If I Could
Kill The Power
Life That’s Free
Gimme That Boom
Our Religion
Warning (With Black Gold)
Nobody Does It Better (Carley Simon) Outro Music

It’s Art
Sound of the Underground
Rhythm On
On Another Level
I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That (Cypress Hill)

Graphic Nature
White Noise
Into the Dark
Bad Blood
Killing Floor



Word & Media by David Chinery (Chinners)
Tickets, Transport & Moral Support by Joshua Chinery