Monday, 2 May 2011

Reviews: Diabetes UK Gig & Skindred @ The Wedgewood Rooms

Diabetes UK gig: Hairforce 5, TFO and Toxic Shock – Wedgewood Rooms. (24/4/11)

Easter Sunday is usually an occasion for me to be off work. Even when working in retail, I didn't have to work this day. I'm not religious, so do not buy into the actual festivities of the Easter weekend, but if they are going to give me a long weekend - I won't moan. Anyway, the Easter Sunday just gone was different to the others as I actually had something of note to do! The Wedgewood Rooms was hosting a charity gig for Diabetes UK, with a club night after. The headlining band were a 80s tribute band called Hairforce 5, and the two bands under them were The Founders Of (TFO) and Toxic Shock. I know people in both of the two bands playing before the tribute band, and I hadn't got round to seeing them live. So the chance to see them both live on the same night, plus a tribute act, plus a club night and it's all for charity? Sounds good to me.

I can't remember if I had heard any Toxic Shock before going to these gigs (I'm sure I heard clips of them on their website but that could be my mind playing tricks on me). Anyway, their set was very enjoyable. Their music is very headbangable (is that a word? It is now!) The thing for them which really stand out for me is how catchy their music is. I really enjoyed their set and I hope to see them live again.

TFO are a different style to that of Toxic Shock and indeed Hairforce 5, which made me wonder if they would stick out like a sore thumb (I have heard from other people they are more of an indie band than metal) but they were also really good. Their set I thought meshed a number of different styles together including indie, rock and ska. Again, their songs were very catchy, and their homage to the Jungle Book was quite unexpected, but very enjoyable. I also hope to see them live again.

I openly discussed with the people I was with leaving at this stage. I had enjoyed both bands but I was considering getting home. However, I decided to grab another beer and stick around for a little bit of Hairforce 5. Truthfully, my first thought of them was negative as I thought the way they dressed on stage made them look like tits. I ended up sticking around for all of their set and being thoroughly impressed by them. Actually, they played covers from a variety of bands and there were some weak points - Walk This Way being particularly poor. However, 90% of what they played was fantastic, so you can't really argue with that. The set was packed with crowd pleasers and sing-along's which were really fun. I think "fun" is probably the best word for them. Early on in the set, the lead singer said "thank you for coming down to see 3 fantastic bands, well 2.5 fantastic bands. I'm sure you all know what I mean" - to which I tweeted about, wondering why they would sell themselves short like that. In my mind, they can't have been putting down either TFO or Toxic Shock as they were both great. However, they won me over so I can say that this night had 3 fantastic bands playing and I really enjoyed the live music portion of the evening.

The club night after was run by the guys that run It's A Sin, a local club night to Portsmouth. I would like to talk about that in detail however I can't. I remember I heard some good music but aside from that, it is a little bit of a blur. I tweeted that it was good though, so I’m sure my drunken self was right. A good night all round.

Skindred Destroy The Dancefloor (Wedgewood Rooms - 27/04/11)

I was interested to see what the Skindred gig last night would be like considering the gig had been moved from the Pyramids to the much smaller Wedgewood Rooms. I am surprised that, following two high profile slots at consecutive Sonisphere festivals, the gig had to be moved at all. However, for all the people in the sold out Wedgewood Rooms, we were in for a treat. Having seen Skindred there in 2010, I knew what they were capable of. The 2010 gig was fantastic and I was hoping for more of the same. I arrived towards the end of the first band, Me vs. Hero. Listening only to the last two songs, I liked what I heard from them. Usually with a support band, I try to compare them in my head to a similar sounding band to form the basis of my opinion. However on this occasion, I was unsuccessful. They didn't seem to get much of a response from the already packed Wedgewood Rooms crowd but I thought they were alright, and they got the night off to a pretty reasonable start. They attempted to get the crowd to make some noise for the next band, Chiodos, with very little success.

Chiodos are another band that I am struggling to put my finger on in terms of a comparison with another band. I remember thinking they were fairly similar to Bullet For My Valentine but I've no idea how accurate that comparison is. As for their set, they were fairly good. I enjoyed most of what I heard from them, although at times I was bored. They managed to get a better response from the crowd than Me Vs. Hero got (although from what I saw, that wouldn't be hard). Predictably, their biggest response was asking the crowd if we were ready for Skindred. After two bands who were alright, but truthfully I'd have been just as happy arriving after they started, I was ready for Skindred.

During the break between Chiodos and Skindred, the atmosphere in the venue picked up quite significantly. This was noticeable by the amount of songs that either made parts of the crowd cheer, or even had the crowd singing along. It must be somewhat frustrating being in a support band, and hearing that a recording of Slipknot - Psychosocial get a better response than your band did. The biggest response came when AC/DC - Thunderstruck played. This was probably a mixture of people loving the song, and people knowing this meant Skindred were about to take the stage.

The room exploded as Skindred took to the stage. They started with what seemed almost like a reworked version of Bruises which was really good. Following that was Roots Rock Riot. This was a superb start to their set which continued to get better as it went on. There was a homage to Metallica during Trouble which was very well received. The new material released on Monday sounded great, with the new album providing a moment of comedy. Benji Webbe asked the crowd who had the new album, which got a fairly big cheer. He then asked who had stolen the new album, which got a slightly awkward response. After clarification, it transpired quite a lot of the people who had the new album had downloaded it for free. "Let me see your hands, people who stole bunch of c**ts!" Following that was a crowd-pleasing declaration that stealing music isn't a bad thing, as long as people still came to the gigs to rock out - safe to say, that wasn't a problem for us.

Seeing the way Benji Webbe can hold a crowd of any size in his hands is phenomenal. During a song towards the end of the set, the band paused with Benji just stood at the front. Without gesture, the crowd went nuts, chanting Skindred until the song kicked back in. Destroy The Dancefloor and Nobody were the final songs before the encore, which is unfortunately when I had to depart. I was left in no doubt though that Skindred are an amazing live band, regardless of setting (be it main stage at Sonisphere or in the 400 capacity Wedgewood Rooms). They are a band that, if you like their music, you need to see them live. For the people that are attending the Download festival this year, make sure you find the time to catch Skindred - you will not regret it.

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