The Smile Tour 2023: SKINDRED, RAGING SPEEDHORN @ SimmCity, Wien (02.12.2023)
Smile please! It’s not that easy to follow the basic theme of the new SKINDRED album when it takes a good 90 minutes longer to get to their concert because of the snow chaos and the associated road conditions, which meant that we didn’t even know at first whether we would even make it to Vienna. But all’s well that ends well, they said, and in the end we were supposed to stand in front of the stage at SimmCity Vienna, grinning.
Before that, we were able to meet frontman Benji Webbe for a cozy interview. A blessing in disguise was that the band didn’t arrive in Vienna on time with their bus, but we met a relaxed and happy singer who had a lot to tell. Afterwards we had to fortify ourselves, only to find out shortly afterwards that the opening act DEFYING DECAY wasn’t so lucky and couldn’t play that evening. RAGING SPEEDHORN were on stage at 8 p.m. sharp and gave the well-filled hall a boost.
Unfortunately, we missed part of the energetic and sweaty show from the men from Corby, Northamptonshire, who really set the mood with their skilful mix of hardcore, punk, sludge and stoner. The two frontmen John Loughlin and Frank Regan were visibly enthusiastic about the moving crowd in front of the stage and heated it up even more. The sound was good, powerful hits and bangers blasted out of the speakers and grateful announcements in which a song was dedicated to the unusual band, as well as smaller interaction opportunities further lightened up the proceedings. With clattering beats, pressing riffs and a hell of a lot of groove, the men were definitely able to impress at their short gig and win new fans in Vienna. In addition, even without the unusual opener, the people were easily brought up to operating temperature.
Setlist RAGING SPEEDHORN:
Hand Of God
Hard To Kill
Fuck The Voodooman
So the likeable Welsh people didn’t take long to ask and from 9 p.m. onwards they started with many a hit like “Don’t Stop Me Now” by QUEEN and “Thunderstruck”, which were already booming out of the speakers at full volume and partying accordingly as well as singing along, there was a real atmosphere.
The tension was enormous and then the time had finally come and the dubstep version of the legendary “Imperial March” was played before the bass introduced the opener. Only the black-clad figure who stomped onto the stage was not Darth Vader, but SKINDRED’s Benji Webbe, who immediately announced the following with a powerful voice and his unmistakable singing style:
Set fazers fi burn
You know di mark of di beast is calling
You cyan say that you nuh get warning
Cuh dem listen every ting that you’re talking
Tracking every step (set fazers fi burn)“
And immediately the mood exploded. Benji immediately put on his first grin and let himself be celebrated – rightly so – but he himself celebrated the audience, gave out fist bumps, waved, pointed at the audience and was already visibly grateful. The energy was literally palpable and the atmosphere was crackling as they led into “Pressure”, which also included a ragga “Back In Black” part that caused more grins. When a cup flew towards the stage, the frontman reprimanded the culprit in a nice but firm way: “That’s not cool, we have rules and we don’t want you to fuck up our gear“.
But that was quickly forgotten and we continued with more classics like “Rat Race” and “That’s My Jam”. There was shaking, dancing, fists raised and singing along again and again. The frontman, who was once again a mega presence on stage with his leather coat and cool glasses, made sure of that anyway. In between he also threw in “Wonderwall,” which was loudly shouted along, and tried to get people to “Whoop Whoop“-to encourage singing. Of course, as is often the case, one side of the room had it better under control.
For “That’s My Jam”, bassist Daniel Pugsley stood at his small DJ desk, which was set up on a box, and at the touch of a button he belted out PANTERA’s legendary “Walk” riff, which also caused a storm of cheers. After that there was some quieter fare with “LOVE (Smile Please)”, which the frontman stopped again because he couldn’t play it like that. In the meantime, the coat and the jacket underneath had been taken off, but with the pink plush hat on, he felt filled with enough love to sing this special song.
But then it happened in quick succession. With the well-known flashback to the past and his youth, he announced “Kill The Power”, “Life That’s Free” was dedicated to his son, to whom he gave the following advice: “You can have a drink, but don’t let the drink have you“, which was met with appreciative applause. For “Nobody” he threw on a bright white leather jacket and the finale “Gimme That Boom” was really celebrated again. But of course that shouldn’t be it.
So the band appeared again, including Benji, who was dressed in royal robes for “Our Relgion”, and then finally ended the set with “Warning”, which once again made everyone sweat.
(The Impearial March)
World’s On Fire
That’s My Jam
State Of Emergency
L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)
If I Could
Kill The Power
Life That’s Free
Gimme That Boom
(Nobody Does It Better)
So if anyone knows how to keep an audience firmly under control from the first to the last second, it’s a certain Benji Webbe, who effortlessly cleaned up and delivered a fantastic show. But great praise should also be given to Daniel Pugsley, Mikey Demus and drummer Arya Goggin, who made me laugh with his falling Hans Gruber imprint on the bass drum. Even if the band disappears somewhat into the background behind the entertainer Webbe, there are strong musicians and a tight band who have absolute control of stages, whether large or small.
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