Whoever said rock’n’roll music is dead obviously hasn’t been to a Band of Skulls show. The Southampton three-piece tore the roof down last night at their sold-out Factory Theatre show with their hook-heavy, riff-ladden rock and penchant for bluesy distortions.
Swathed in all-black ensembles, the Band of Skulls strode onstage to a warm welcome and kicked things off with slow-burner Sweet Sour, the title track of their latest album. Guitarist Russell Marsden unfurled the first of many electrifying solo pieces whilst timekeeper Matt Hayward pounded on the drums with brutal precision.
Addressing the fervent crowd, Marsden howled “Sydney! It’s nice to be back, sorry it took so long”, into the microphone before delivering new track Lies, where an upside-down wine bottle was used to provide the song’s introductory percussion.
Their gnarly fuzz-rock music bears a strong resemblance to Jack White’s side-project The Dead Weather, especially with the boy-girl dual vocals of guitarist Marsden and bassist Emma Richardson. And along with their pocket rocket drummer, the trio share an onstage chemistry and unspoken solidarity that allows them to communicate with a simple nod or quick exchange of a glance.
If they lack anything, it’s a bit more ballsy execution. By this I don’t mean egotistically duck walking across the stage or playing the guitar with your teeth, but rather just that the band emit some more self-confidence and look to be having as much fun as the audience are.
After warming up the crowd with foot-stomping number Patterns, the Band of Skulls’ set sloped into a lulling plateau, as a string of torch-song rock tunes ensued, featuring the dreamy melody of Navigate and the lilting repetition of Fires.
Judging by the ecstatic reception to early material such as Bomb and Blood, it was easy to tell that I was in the company of long-time fans. Naturally, they were over the moon when Marsden dedicated old favourite and long-lasting lullaby Cold Fame especially to them.
Just as the audience began to drift into a state of stupor from all the sweet harmonies and atmospheric instrumentation, the Band of Skulls kicked into overdrive with some bombastic, whiskey-soaked rock’n’roll tunes for the homestretch of the set. Hollywood Bowl and I Know What I Am alone incited a front-of-stage mosh pit that didn’t let up until the guitar feedback drowned out and the curtains drew shut.
After a rousing non-stop performance of Light of the Morning and Death by Diamonds and Pearls combined, the all-the-rage UK outfit left the stage. But it wasn’t long before they were reeled back into the spotlight for an encore by their army of fans chanting “Band of Skulls! Band of Skulls!”
Ending the memorable evening with as many power chords and carnal grunge riffs as they started with, the band unleashed the beast that is The Devil Takes Care of His Own and sent the audience home in a more than satisfied state.