Gig Reviews

Boom! Skindred got Tokyo to jump

Welsh rockers Skindred slayed Tokyo with a headline show in Shibuya.

Skindred and Fame on Fire at Duo Music Exchange, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan on 1st July 2024

Fame on Fire is one of those modern rock bands living in that weird musical landscape that is sometimes called metalcore, nu-metal or post-metal. It’s normally not my kind of jam as I typically want my music dirtier and grittier. But this evening in Shibuya, the boys from Florida delivered a great warm-up set. My favourite track was the in-your-face delivery of the song “Cut Throat” (it is always a good thing when the shout-along line the audience is asked to scream is “Fuck you”). “Headspace” was another good track in the set. They also squeezed in a good 3 Doors Down cover called “Kryptonite”.

Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru is a Welsh government-sponsored body in charge of Wales’s natural resources. Yet there is no mention on its website of the most important natural resource that Wales has ever produced – Benji Webbe, frontman of Skindred.

Benji Webbe is one of the best entertainers in rock. Not only can he sing, he knows how to entertain. And he did this Monday night in Tokyo. The rest of the band wisely took a back seat to Benji’s on-stage antics. This bigger-than-life frontman, a Welshman with Caribbean roots, has swagger and doesn’t shy away from doing whatever he wants up on stage. But he can back up that confidence with pure and raw talent. He knows he’s there to entertain.

Guitarist Mikey Demus performed confidently in an understated way looking like a Welsh cross of Billy Gibbons, Tony Iommi and Wayne Hussey. The rhythm section – drummer Arya Goggin and bassist and button pusher Danel Pugsley – was rock steady and groovy at the same time. The duo provided the structure and canvas that Benji and Mikey used to create the beautiful painting that this band is.

Skindred is a unique band and it is bloody good. As in really bloody great. As in much better than most other bands. When it comes to Skindred, there are no rules. Diverse and contrasting musical styles (metal, reggae, rap, dub, punk, alt-rock…you name it!) are mashed up properly and out comes a signature sound that is sheer awesomeness.

AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and a remix of “The Imperial March” from the Star Wars film score preceded Skindred’s arrival on stage. That says quite a lot about what Skindred is. This bubbly and spicy melting pot of a rock band is unique, but it is also one of the best live acts out there.

They started the evening with “Set Fazers” and continued with “Rat Race”. It was a knockout start to a fab show so full of greatness that it was better than a dodgy East London kebab at three in the morning. The audience jumped, danced and sang along. The sweat party continued with the terrific “World’s on Fire”. The Tokyo show was faultless in its song selection. It included favourites such as “That’s My Jam”, “Kill the Power”, “Nobody”, “Gimme That Boom” and “Our Religion”. The evening was closed in style with “Warning”. The band left its audience wanting more. That’s what the pros do, finish before they have overfed their fans. Leaving them wanting more is a great set-up for a return to Japan soon.

This band is on a roll at the moment. Their latest album, “Smile” (2023), hit the number two spot on the British album chart, they headlined a show at Wembley Arena and just a few days before they came to Tokyo, they played the legendary Glastonbury Festival in the UK.

Skindred is certainly my jam. What a brilliant band! What a bunch of entertainers!