with guests

Devil Sold His Soul

Tuesday 20th December, 2005 @ The Charlotte, Leicester, ENGLAND.

The gig was billed as a three band line-up, but unfortunately opening band ‘For Sale’ - Czechoslovakian crossover metal - had cancelled at the last moment, reportedly due to vocalist Henrieta Misurakova contracting food poisoning. This was a shame, as going on the samples played on their website (, they would have been worth catching.

So, in front of a decent size crowd for the Charlotte, the first actual band on stage was ‘Devil Sold His Soul’ ( - who, for those that don’t know, are formed from the ashes of UK progcore band ‘Mahumodo’.  Having recently raved about their debut five track EP called “Darkness Prevails” (reviewed here) and remembering the awesome intensity of Mahumodo on stage, interest was high to see how it translated in the live environment.

The six-piece began in almost total darkness with the gentle and passive notes of a recording of “lily” introducing the band, before they exploded into sound.  They duly made their way through the EP including the title track (“Darkness Prevails”), “Some Friends”, and “Clouds”. There were occasional use of strobe lights throughout the heavier moments - which gave you a rare chance to actually see who was playing - but unfortunately other than this, the stage presence was zero.  They singularly failed to capture the audience’s attention and people were beginning to wander off.  There was just no focus, and an almost anonymous Ed Gibbs (the vocalist) was creating a horrible noise that was putting the dwindling numbers off further, as he alternated between tuneless singing and a highly-strung shouting that sounded like a possessed Gollum. Mercifully, for some reason there was periods were he didn’t use the mike, he just shouted into the crowd and you couldn’t hear him at all, which just left the music to enjoy.  This really isn’t an excuse to have a pop at the vocalist, it’s a genuine statement of what happened and echo’s the reaction going on all around during the set.

Towards the end, there was a prolonged gap of silence as the band milled around on stage before the last song, but with the continued lack of interaction with the crowd, most of those remaining thought it had finish and began to make their way to the bar. With punters in mid-drift the band began playing again with the mighty “Like It’s Your Last”, taking everyone by surprise.  What a pity as this was the best song of the set and showed their excellent brand of music with such power, ferocity and those much enjoyed layers of intensity.  The bands performance was missing that crucial something - a presence - something that was admirably filled by Medi (the vocalist) in the Mahumodo days and something that a relatively unknown band can’t get away without when playing live.  On the whole it was disappointing, even slightly embarrassing and simply left a feeling of wasted opportunity.  This is a good band, it’s still well worth getting hold of their EP and then just hope they get the live show sorted.

Skindred Babylon Burns Again 2005 Tour Flyer

And so onto the headliners - the awesome Skindred ( - who must be one of the UK’s biggest kept secrets. They have been around for quite a while now, with a tremendous hard-work ethic and also as a previous incarnation called Dub War, their unique fusion of ragga style reggae and metal is guaranteed to hit the spot! With a recently re-released, remixed and repackaged album now on Warner Bros called “Babylon” - which also features a number of additional songs - everything was set for The Babylon Burns Again Tour 2005.

Right from the outset you realised this was going to be a good gig, from the earliest glimpse of Benji’s onstage antics, you knew the vocalist was going to hold your attention throughout. In fact audience participation was not optional, he insisted on it, as the whole room bounced to his command and as the music took over your very heart and soul.  Pumping through a great set of infectious songs that had everyone dancing, which included “Nobody”, “Pressure”, “Start First”, “Selector”, “Bruises”, “Set It Off” and of course “Babylon”, the place was a writhing mass of happy faces.

Skindred Band Photo

Skindred Band Photo

For those expecting a recital of the album verbatim, then this wasn’t the gig or the band for that.  Almost every song went through a transformation, with a remix of styles, tempos and attitude to catch you out - even mid tune sometimes! And of course there was Benji with his box of electronic tricks, kicking out allsorts of noises and effects, beats and samples, with a massive smile on his face, fittingly he was like a child at Christmas. Dan (Bass) and Arya (Drums) were laying down some awesome rhythms, which were orchestrating the mood and Mikey (Guitar) kept the metal presence, cutting in with riffs that knocked you onto your back.

This is a band that is so in tune with each other and gave such a slick performance, one that entertained you from the very first minute to the last. This is exactly the sort of show that you come out to see and pay good money for, to have an honest of goodness good time.  When the gig was closing and Benji raised his mini-keyboards into the air and started playing some simple solo tune - and for some reason reminding me of Rolf Harris and his Stylophone - as he took his hands away and the tune still continued and his smile widened, you would have to be dead not to have enjoyed this.


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