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Review: Skindred play The Forum, Tunbridge Wells

By Poppy Jeffery

The Forum in Tunbridge Wells has a lot of hype. It’s been voted the best small venue by NME and for the last 25 years has become a staple for small bands trying to break through into the big time- so it’s clear that this venue is no stranger to real talent. Enter Skindred.

This four piece reggae-metal band from Wales are something spectacular. If a child was born when they first formed, they’d now be an adult, and an adult with impeccable taste in music.

Benji Webbe and co. have recently come off a headline tour, playing massive venues including o2 Brixton Academy and Southampton Guildhall, which seat 5,000 and 2,000 respectively - so for them to come to a 250 capacity venue is rather amazing.

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Black Futures play the Forum, Tunbridge Wells
Black Futures play the Forum, Tunbridge Wells

For this gig they were supported by a band called Black Futures, who sound kind of like Royal Blood and Slaves combined, but much louder. They have one drummer and a keyboardist/singer/guitarist, who have more energy than anyone I’ve seen live before - but energy doesn’t compensate for how much my ears hurt after that show. That being said, although it was much too loud, the crowd really did enjoy it.

They had two ‘fun-starters’ on stage who were two people in hazmat suits who ended up in the crowd dancing with people in an attempt to get everyone enjoying their set, which was a pretty good idea. Not my cup of tea really, and the volume could really be turned down a notch, but overall an energetic and quite fun performance.

Skindred are a band to be reckoned with though. They always enter the stage to the same medley, Thunderstruck by AC/DC and into the Imperial March from Star Wars- which is a medley that would make anyone feel like a total boss walking on.

Skindred play the Forum
Skindred play the Forum

They’ve concreted themselves as a metal scene staple, playing countless Download Festivals and winning awards from Metal Hammer and Kerrang!

Their musical knowhow is fantastic too, combining reggae beats and metal effortlessly with a splash of fun for good measure to make their fanbase one of the most diverse I’ve seen in a long time.

Daniel Pugsley, Mikey Demus and Arya Goggin are some standout musicians too. Inside The Forum, it was easily one of the hottest and sweatiest places, with Mikey’s guitars actually looking wet from the heat- but that didn’t stop him being note perfect. The sheer energy and electricity these guys have is infectious, and they’re clearly really good friends as well.

VIDEO: Benji Webbe speaks to Poppy from KMTV

Lead singer Benji also has an incredible wardrobe that makes mere morals like me a tad jealous, with hats, sequins, and also some amazing custom jackets.

They played songs including Selector, Pressure and Nobody- and if you’re not a fan of mosh pits, it’s best you head for the sides or back of this miniature venue…

It’s so nice to see bands who haven’t let fame get to them and are still grounded in reality like Skindred are. They took the time after the gig to go outside and chat to fans and all really seem to love what they do.

That’s why this gig is up there with the best I’ve been to.

There are a few tickets still available for tomorrow’s show (supported with Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics) and if you have a free evening, even if metal isn’t your normal jam, you really should consider going down for a dance. Book at twforum.co.uk

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