In the cult-classic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, there is a brilliant moment where the dean’s secretary explains everyone’s adoration for Ferris, because as we all know “he’s a righteous dude”, and from the look of Friday’s crowd a similar thing has happened with Band of Skulls. Oh, they’re very popular, reader. The lads, the teens, parents, oldies, dweebies – they all adore them. And after Friday’s show it’s clear why.
Band of Skulls are a band that give their everything. In five years they’ve released three studio albums, two live sessions and an EP. They’re also currently reaching the end of a brief UK tour, which will then see them head in to an intense world tour, with extensive dates in Europe and America. It may be seen as the norm for a band with a new album pie (‘Himalayan’) fresh from the oven but it’s the content of their live shows that truly reveals their prominence.
Band of Skulls
Before Band of Skulls had the chance to woo, we were delighted by their support act, Coves. Their opener ‘Beatings’ sprang to life with a psychedelic guitar opening that lead in to electric whirs and haunting vocals. With the tribal drums in the background it was very hard not to find comparison to Warpaint. Next was ‘Cast a Shadow’, an impressive live version (unfortunately restricted on record by repetitive guitar). This was the band’s gritty anthem laced with Beck Woods’ soft vocals. They finished their set with a cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’, a slowed down version layered with vocals from Woods that mirrored Lana Del Ray. Although they were only given half the stage and half the crowd they made the most of what they had, and certainly left a lasting impression.
Band of Skulls kicked things off with new song ‘Asleep at the Wheel’, a Black Keys inspired rumble of pounding guitar and a ferocious crunch at the chorus. After a second bout of new material, ‘Himalayan’, the band slip in to something a little more familiar. ‘I Know What I Am’ being a perfect opportunity for guitarist Matt Hayward and bassist Emma Richardson to illustrate their dual vocals, taking it in turns to spit out their words with catchy menace.
Band of Skulls
The band continued with their mix of song choice as they switched between their debut, follow-up and latest effort. While Himalayan’s ‘Nightmares’ received a luke warm reaction in London it’s an effort that will no doubt be welcomed with open arms when their world tour reaches America. Thankfully this subdued reaction was a rare sight, as the ghoulishly driven ‘Patterns’ and the hearty soul of ‘Bruises’ finally started to warm the crowd’s mosh pit up. Further new additions ‘I Guess I Know You Fairly Well’ and ‘Hoochie Coochie’ managed to capture both the smooth and rough of the band, while also highlighting how similar their live sound is to the records. That’s another reason to be impressed.
Band of Skulls
As the night reached 10pm it seemed an encore was in sight and then it would be off to bed for everyone. Not in the world of Band of Skulls. Instead, the band re-emerged and ripped in to a 25-minute mini-set with ‘Light of the Morning’, ‘Sweet Sour’ and ‘Death by Diamonds and Pearls’. And that’s yet another reason to be impressed.
With the release of their third album this week (Monday 31st) Band of Skulls are certainly readying themselves for when they reach America, with the sound of their latest effort encompassing Western and general American rock influences. If this UK tour was considered their warm up then Europe, and more importantly America are in for a treat.
Photos by Nicola Cane.