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Skin @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton (7/6/10)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 14:42 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 14:53 ]
It’s my first visit to the new Wolves Civic-run venue The Slade Rooms (well for a gig…hic…shhhhh) - which has replaced the city's old Little Civic venue - to catch rejuvenated Brit rockers Skin warming up for a second successive year playing the Download festival.

By the time I arrived Voodoo Johnson had just taken to the stage for what must be the shortest set I’ve ever witnessed. The sound wasn’t the best for the guys tonight and the vocals got buried which didn’t help their cause. They are a hard-working band so I’m sure I’ll get to catch the band again at some point, hopefully with better sound and a longer set.

Black Country rockers Liberty Lies were next to hit the stage, a band I have kept an eye over the past year since I first discovered them supporting GUN - when they really impressed me with their stage act, enthusiasm and fresh energy. The last time I saw them, they had come on leaps and bounds in the songwriting department and really made the most of the opportunity to support fellow midlanders Magnum, and made a great impression on the thousand strong crowd at the Wulfrun Hall that night.

The band seemed at home on stage tonight, and they will always win new fans with their energetic and exciting performances. As a group they have a very relaxed attitude and a laid back sense of humour which comes across well to the audience, no egos here - or at least not on show anyway, haha! That attitude does bring a sense of welcoming and trying to get everyone to enjoy their music or at least let go and enjoy the moment - which I think will serve them well in years to come.

As I mentioned, the first time I saw the band I thought they showed promise, the second I thought here’s one to watch, now I think they have hit their stride and have matured in their songwriting whilst maintaining the high energy live performances. I still think they have even bigger and better to come, but this is a band who right now are the real deal and are far better and more exciting than 90% of the current crop of new rock bands around. They have an EP out at the moment which is well worth checking out and you can read a review of it here on
Midlands Rocks.

Their blend of 70s style classic blues rock with a modern stance comes across fantastically well in the live arena, and whilst it’s great in intimate venues like The Slade Rooms it also has the power to fill and encompass far larger venues in my opinion and surely it’s only a matter of time before those big stages beckon?  Shaun has a very powerful vocal style, perfect for this style of music - gritty and dirty and very reminicesent of all those British classic rock singers of the 70s. Josh is a flamboyant lead guitarist and always puts on an energetic entertaining performance, how he manages to pull of some of those riffs and solos whilst bouncing round like he’s on day release from Dorothy Patterson’s astounds me!  Matt (Bass), Dan (Guitars) and Steveo (Drums) all play their part giving tight musical performances but also a full on entertaining show. These guys obviously love performing live as the joy and excitement visible on their faces is clear, and draws the audience in to join the party!

They didn’t have the longest set, but they threw everything at us but the kitchen sink and got a great reception from the crowd, and their fast building loyal local fan base. The set highlight is the surprising cover version of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, a fully rocked up version and the band nailed it, combining the melodies with some kick ass rock power and making it work - Josh’s phenomenal guitar playing bringing the song's music to life, or should that read rock life. Hmmmmm. Another highlight was ballad “Day In The Sun”; a real sign of the growth of the bands song writing and musical skills and it went down exceeding well with the crowd to. You can check out their promo video for that song

What I liked more tonight about the new songs is they have injected even more of a melodic stance into their sound, which given my own personal musical preferences only endears me to the band even more so. Don’t worry, they still have that classic rock swagger and heavy modern edge but the melodic tint makes the songs more powerful and memorable. You’ll be hard pressed to find a harder working bunch of musicians and its great having such a young and exciting band coming out of the Black Country (AKA: the best bit of the Midlands! * ). I highly recommend checking these guys out especially live!

* - Editor's Note: Woody's views do not necessarily reflect those of Midlands Rocks as a whole!

The main support act tonight is Matt Alfonzetti who for those who don’t know was in a band called Jagged Edge with Myke Gray and Andy Robbins prior to the formation of Skin. When I heard he was supporting I got very excited at the prospect of hearing all those old Jagged Edge songs, as I personal consider the “Fuel For Your Soul” album a melodic hard rock genre classic. When Matt took to the stage I was a little disappointed to see it was going to be a one man and his guitar set, I had hoped for a full on electric set. Even more worrying was Matt’s image, which was full on singer songwriter attire a la James Blunt and Co, complete with flat cap, so it didn’t exactly inspire my confidence and in what was to come - expecting self indulgent artistic musician yawn inducing bollocks. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.

I have to say I enjoyed Matt’s set quite a lot even though I didn’t know all the songs, which from what I could gather was a short retrospective spanning his own career in various bands as well as solo material. He seemed to go down positively with the crowd and it was obvious there was quite a few Jagged Edge fans loitering about given the best reactions came for that band's songs. To me the Jagged Edge songs were the highlight of the set which also saw Skin six stringer Myke Gray up on stage for these two songs. So we got “Out In The Cold”, one of my favourite songs from the album highly melodic and catchy as hell and the crowd sang along which left smiles on both Matt and Myke’s faces. The most famous Jagged Edge song “You Don’t Love Me” got even better crowd reactions and everybody seemed to enjoy the sing along. The other stuff Matt played didn’t fall on deaf ears and it did garner some good reactions, I’m sure he was pleased he made the trip to do this gig now given the warm reception he received.

Last year when Skin played their Download warm up show it was at the Wulfrun Hall to a near capacity crowd. Obviously this was one of the first shows Skin had played since reforming so their was a lot of initial interest, but I was not only surprised that the gig had been downsized to The Slade Rooms but the full house I was expecting wasn’t there either with quite a lot of space available at the back of the room. Having said that though those who were there were die hard skin fans and they all pushed towards the front.

The sound wasn’t the best for the band tonight, but it didn’t seem to bother the vast majority of the crowd here tonight as they soaked up every minute of the show. The band put on a really good performance and the intimate setting suited them, as a unit they are far more confident in their performance now and are technically a lot better as all their recent live work including a big venue tour last December has worked out all those cobwebs. The band seemed to love every minute of it, and at times came across as though they still couldn’t quite believe that not only were they back but that people gave a shit! Nev’s humour also endears the fans to him as he comes across like a mate having a bit of banter as opposed to a distancing attitude of look at me, damn it, I’m a fooking rock star!

The band came onstage to the intro tape to Dio’s “Long Live Rock ‘N Roll” a tribute to the recently departed rock icon. They then took to the stage with a bang with a surprising opening song, a new tune from the upcoming “Breaking The Silence” album - a risky move as most bands tend to open with a known tune to get the crowds juices pumping rather than heading for the bar until the good stuff comes. It worked though and the crowd seemed to take to it, “Born To Rock N Roll” is definitely destined to become a staple in the Skin set list a brash & energetic rocker, I was suitablely impressed - can’t wait to snag a copy of the album based on this.

Next up we got “Spit On You”, which kept the crowd up before jumping into another song from the Lucky album “How Lucky You Are”. The band was determined to keep this set full of energy and had chosen their opening salvo of songs wisely but also made the most of the space they had on stage to maintain fan's visual interest. Nev then took the opportunity to thank everyone for turning out and making their voices heard and that he knew they always got a good reception from fans “round ‘ere” which obviously got a bellow of cheers (and not just from me!). They then broke into one of the most popular songs from their debut album “House Of Love”, which judging by the crowd's sudden need to dance was a good choice of song to play now.

The new Skin single “Stronger” came next and given how vocal everyone was I think the new material is going down extremely well with the fans. They then ran through “Colourblind”, another newbie “Redemption” and “Money” before kicking into one of the highlights of the night and the near perfect live song “Take Me Down To the River”, a Skin show without this song would feel naked. Then it was baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby time as they kicked into their biggest hit “Look But Don’t Touch” which the band threw themselves into full force and all the crowd sang along …c’mon you know the words… baby, baby, baby, baby! The last song of the set was the lighter waving “Tower of Strength”, which always goes down well and did again tonight, the song has become a bit of anthem to the band and their core audience, they don’t write them like this anymore *sigh*.

The encore consisted of “Reunited”, “Perfect Day” and “Shine A Light” which finished the set of on a high, but these songs also highlighted just how strong Nev’s voice is and I thought he sounded even better than last year. Another fantastic show from the band and I hope the smaller crowd tonight doesn’t put the band off carrying on. They are definitely humbled and extremely appreciative of their fans as Nev thanked everyone for coming out on a Monday to support them, Myke even came over and shook my hand as they come of stage!