Live Reviews

KISS w/ Skindred & The Wild Things – Manchester AO Arena: Live Review

We see KISS…just one more time. It’s the end of the road for the famous rockers and their last English show is in Manchester.


Always see the support. That is a mantra that we always try to follow on At The Barrier. We do our best but we are foiled by a mightily long time in gaining access and only manage to get in to see the up and coming rockers, The Wild Things, complete their set. Under the tutelage of none other than Pete Townshend, this group have been making waves. Their first US show was at Madison Square Garden and they have played countless other venues around the world.

Heaven Knows is blaring from the huge stage upon entry. Singer, Sydney Rae White, is dressed like a star from Mad Max as she bounds around the stage energetically showcasing her incredibly strong voice. Organ licks and punchy riffs underpin a wonderfully catchy song. With what is becoming a perennial set closer, The Wild Things finish with Drunk Again. ‘I hope this is what you’ll all be come the end of the night,’ says White, ‘if you are into that,’ she adds. They get a good reception and it appears that their set has gone across well. Apologies from me to the band in not being able to catch the whole show.

Check out our interview with The Wild Things here.

The Wild Things

Our last encounter with Skindred was at Download Festival 2022 where they absolutely owned the main stage. By all accounts they smashed it again this year. In all my time watching Skindred, I have never seen Benji Webbe (singer) not step onto a stage he hasn’t gone on to own it. The Welsh quartet are a supremely confident group who clearly love what they do and will do everything they can to make sure that everyone else will love it too!

Love is on the agenda with new cut L.O.V.E. (Smile Please) forming a part of the show where there is a little respite from their crunching nu-metal style riffs. The ska-metal vibe and message of positivity is beautiful. For all the brightness, Webbe is dressed head to toe in black with a sparkly tie and sparkly shoes; offset with fetching red socks! It looks like he’s taken a trip to Afflecks Palace during his stay in Manchester. Mikey Demus on guitar channels his inner Billy Gibbons whilst Arya Goggin absolutely pounds the drums and bassist Daniel Pugsley keeps everything low and dirty on bass (and electronics!)

Skindred have been ploughing away since 1998 and it is only right that they are getting slots like this. Smile is their 8th album which is due in August of 2023. Set Fazers opens the set from this record. Gimme That Boom bookends it towards the end. Both show what is to come from the band. The latter is huge and will be tearing up audiences for years to come.

Peppered amongst the newer songs are old favourites. Webbe works the crowd like the veteran master of ceremonies that he is. He has the sides of the audience competing with a humour and pleasure that makes him such a unique character. The crowd are clearly into the band having probably seen them at a festival or just being bona-fide fans (there are plenty of fans sporting their shirts).

A cheeky cover of Van Halen’s Jump mixed with House Of Pain’s Jump Around is a fun interlude between That’s My Jam and Kill The Power. Kill The Power is a fist pumping beast and one of Skindred’s many calling cards. As far as calling cards go, their closing salvo comes in the form of the evergreen Warning, complete with ‘Newport Helicopter.’ If you know, you know, but for the uninitiated, Webbe explains that people need to hold an item of clothing above their heads and spin it on their count. Plenty oblige and the band leave the stage to Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better. Carly has it right about Skindred; nobody does it quite like you. Never change, Skindred. A complete success.

You can preorder the new Skindred album here. It is out on 4th August 2023.


Does anybody do it better? There aren’t many bands that can hold a torch to KISS. For over 50 years, they have been the benchmark of shock/glam/hard rock. Their stage antics are things of legend, and their songs go further than that. For their last ever jaunt around the UK, KISS deliver a masterclass in showmanship and musicianship.

As the sounds of Led Zeppelin’s Rock & Roll bounds around the nearly full AO Arena, the crowd have phones trained on the huge KISS banner shrouding the stage. ‘You Wanted the Best , YOU GOT THE BEST! The Hottest Band in the World — KISS!’ And with that, Detroit Rock City thunders in with KISS all raised on platforms and a pyro burst that is completely eye watering (even more-so than the £16.90 for two pints of Strongbow or £20 for a KISS keyring).

With such legendary history and a longevity unparalleled, fans in attendance need no help in getting involved. Shout It Out Loud is huge. Simmons’ ‘You got to have a party,’ line feeling completely apt. This is a party. A celebration. Stanley remarks as much from the stage whilst tottering around the stage in his/their unmistakeable get up.

For the opening salvo, there is a huge pyro boom (sonic, if you will) at the end of each song. Although frequent, it still makes one jump! War Machine, from 1982’s Creatures Of The Night, is a heavy monstrosity. The opening riff is dastardly, and the pounding drums foreboding. ‘You better watch out…cos I’m a war machine,’ chant the crowd, fists in the air. The 80’s continue with Stanley’s vocal lick opening Heaven’s On Fire. Recorded during the ‘unmasked’ era of the band, the Animalize visuals flank the band as the sound of 80’s hard rock is wrapped up in one song.

I Love It Loud gives Gene Simmons chance to dig out the fire breathing party piece. The ‘yeah yeah yeah’ chorus is lapped up by the crowd. The ‘yeah’ theme continues with Say Yeah. The complexity of crowd participation is easy and it is impossible not to grin from ear to ear when witnessing the joy that this band bring to so many people.

Cold Gin takes us back to the bands debut of 1974. Stanley’s intro is a little on the arduous side but the music dispels the elongated drawl of the intro before Tommy Thayer takes centre stage. His solo work is phenomenal and can shred with the absolute best. Throw in more pyro blasts strewn from his guitar neck, and you have a blockbuster solo segment. From that, it’s back to the 80’s with Lick It Up. A little interpolation of Won’t Get Fooled Again is thrown into the mix with Stanley and Thayer front and centre as Eric Singer replicates Keith Moon’s iconic drum fill and Stanley does the Daltrey shriek and mic swing.

Not wanting to give the limelight up too much, Simmons leads Makin’ Love and Calling Dr. Love before a solo of his own where we get him spitting blood and brief parts of 100,000 years and Psycho Circus. Into the home straight, God Of Thunder, from 1976’s Destroyer, is a menace in its riff and opening. The chorus is instantly recognisable and the crowd need no encouragement.

‘I wanna come out and see you all,’ exults Stanley before flying over the crowd to a stage in amongst the masses to deliver an emphatic Love Gun. With the end nigh, a few harmonics from Stanley on his guitar lead to main set closer; the absolutely terrific, Black Diamond. For all the hits that KISS have, this feels like their signature (at least to this writer).

Returning for a three song encore, Manchester Arena comes unglued after Beth (which sees Singer on keys) before a glorious rendition of I Was Made For Lovin’ You. The pulsing bass line and vocal harmonies have never diminised over the years and this is no exception. Predictably, but not tediously, Rock & Roll All Nite closes the show. This is a true tickertape parade with confetti, streamers and balloons filling the auditorium. Simmons and Thayer are raised up; Stanley swings his guitar with delight and Singer elongates it all with his fantastic drumming. A final pyro blast and thanks are given. The crowd reciprocates.

Thank you KISS, for the music, the shows, the fun, the horror, and the joy.

The band finish their final tour in the USA in December. Revel in Black Diamond just one more time, below.

KISS: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube

Skindred: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

The Wild Things: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

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