As the rain poured down on the hallowed turf of Donington Park, Newport’s reggae rockers Skindred took the stage accompanied by the Imperial March.

Despite the almost torrential downpour, tens of thousands crowded around the festival’s main stage to join the Welsh heroes’ seventh Download festival party.

Not one second went by where the crowd were not entertained by a plethora of hits and ‘Pride of Pill’ frontman Benji Webbe prancing around the stage.

Every bit the rock star, he strutted his stuff while belting out hits including ‘Sound the Siren’ and ‘Rat Race’.


Several curses to the weather ensued throughout, but Webbe had the dedicated crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, forgetting the weather, with crowd chanting competitions and even doing half of some songs for him. This worked out well with both halves of the crowd knowing their parts and when to come in, particularly on monster party hit ‘That’s My Jam’.

REEF frontman Gary Stringer took to the stage to join the band for their ‘British heavy metal’ track ‘Machine’, one of the less reggae influenced tracks of the set and one that sent fans on a journey through time as it embodied 1980s British metal perfectly.

Although saying they loved the British weather, that did not stop the band wishing they were in California as ‘California Love Jam’ kicked in.

It’s a standard thing at Download Festival to pay tribute to some of the legends who have previously walked the hallowed turf at the festival and Skindred focused on The Prodigy’s Keith Flint, who died in March.

As the end of the set approached, it was time to regain all power with moving speeches about not letting people dictate your life, a perfect Segway into hard rock anthem ‘Kill The Power’.

Closing track ‘Warning’ is arguably the band’s most popular song and features the band’s infamous ‘Newport Helicopter’, which was born at the festival in 2011. The helicopter is something that, despite the cold and wet weather, the thousands in the crowd were eager to participate in.

Skindred were the only band at the festival to represent Wales and they not only showed that there is a lot of talent in our small nation but also that Newport is home to something special. After 21 years as a band, Skindred can only be defined as a go-to for a rock party and there is plenty more yet to come.