As we head into the Christmas break, it’s off to the Motorpoint Arena for one last time, to see the Danish metal band Volbeat...
On arriving, it was clear with the amount of equipment, lighting, and additional speaker units, this was a top production. The stage had a large diamond shaped walkway out front, with a VIP pit in the middle.
Up on stage first is Birmingham grindcore metal band Napalm Death, who are Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway (vocals), Shane Embury (bass), Mitch Harris (guitar) and Danny Herrera (drums). Napalm Death are an unashamed noise band, with a strong political ethos, and Mark talks to the crowd about immigration and treating everyone as equal, and the importance of women’s rights.
The set includes You Suffer, their world record song (the world’s shortest song), over almost before it’s begun! They also included their second shortest song, Dead, a massive two seconds in length just for a bit of balance, with Mark telling the crowd how different the two songs are, tonally and structurally. The wall of noise is incessant, and they end the set with a cover of the Dead Kennedy’s classic Nazi Punks F&*k Off.
An intense, powerful set delivered with passion, what a start to the night.
After a short turnround on stage, the arrival of Welsh reggae metal band Skindred is announced with the Star Wars Imperial March. Skindred are Benji Webbe (vocals) Daniel Pugsley (bass), Mikey Demus (guitar) and Arya Goggin (drums). They released their debut album Babylon in 2002 and have released seven in total. Their new album Smile is due to be released in 2023.
Skindred are an incredible live experience – the ultimate party band. Benji appears on a podium with two red roses raised high as they launched into the opening track Stand for Something. He has an incredible ability to connect with his audience as he prowls around the walkway. At one point, the Benny Hill theme tune kicks in as Ayra jumps up from his drums and rushes round the walkway and tries to steel Benji sunglasses before being chased off!
Before That’s My Jam from 2018’s Bing Tings, Benji splits the crowd in two, one half tasked with shouting Whoop the other with That’s My Jam. He plays the two sides off against each other and conducts us through the track. The audience are loving it! For Nobody, we’re asked to clap our hands Radio Ga-Ga style and the audience as one happily joins in and is singing along to the chorus.
As the set closes, we have Warning from their 2011 album Union Black. The crowd knows what’s coming as they get ready for the Newport Helicopter. The crowd crouch down with t-shirts and bandana’s held aloft between two hands like a placard, before Benji counts them down and they launch up as one and swirl the t-shirts around their heads. An amazing sight, and the energy in the stadium is off the scale.
As the band leave the stage, Nobody Does It Better rings out from the PA as Benji slowly walks round the walkway saluting the crowd. As ever, Skindred didn’t disappoint.
The lights go out and the stage springs to light with video walls bursting into showing shots of the band backstage ready to come on before the lights come on hailing the introduction of headliners Volbeat. From Copenhagen in Denmark, Volbeat are Michael Poulsen (vocals/guitar), Rob Caggiano (guitar), Kaspar Boye Larsen (Bass) and Jon Larsen (drums). The band has released eight studio albums, with the debut The Strength/The Sound/The Songs in 2005 and their most recent Servant of the Mind in 2021.
They start with The Devil’s Bleeding Crown from the iconic 2016 album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie and the crowd are jumping right from the off. Poulsen makes his way down the walkway to the front and is framed by the smoke cannons much to the crowds delight. He welcomes the faithful and apologies for having a heavy cold, asking the crowd to help with the singing, which results in huge cheers.
Another track from Seal the Deal, and the crowd light up the phone torches as For Evigt (Forever) starts, a beautiful moment. Volbeat aren’t your usual metal band and have a wide range of influences from rock and metal through rockabilly and good old rock and roll, and this really shows in their material which has a broad range of styles. Seal the Deal has a full-on heavy introduction to which the crowd enthusiastically clap along to as Poulsen, Caggiano and Larsen strut round the walkway.
As we reach the encore the anthemic track Let It Burn rings out the crowd are bouncing round as Caggiano delivers a solid solo. Perhaps track of the night goes to Die to Live an emotional track from Rewind, Replay, Rebound. Michael introduces each of the band members to roars of approval form the crowd before they head into the final track of the night, Still Counting. A powerhouse of a track as the smoke machines go into overdrive as a wall of sound crushes the arena. The power builds and builds to a crescendo before the stage explodes into a shower of tape and smoke.
Just wow, what a night! It’s unusual to have three such diverse bands on one line up. With Napalm Deaths raw, relentless power, Skindred’s reggae party metal and then the complex mix of influences from Volbeat. This is a show that will live long in the memory, and what a way to end 2022!
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