1655933_10152242014337720_811633691_n– THE RITZ, MANCHESTER –

In advance of new album Himalayan‘s release on 31st March, Band Of Skulls are the headline act tonight at the Ritz. As I arrive, support act Coves are already on stage playing their cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. The crowd seem quite underwhelmed by the few songs I witness and the set ends earlier than I was expecting.

Around 45 minutes later Band Of Skulls take to the stage and open their set with ‘Asleep At The Wheel’, the first single to be taken from the new album. The first thing I notice is how quiet the vocals appear to be. They are completely lost in the sound and it detracts from the song a lot.

Second up is the title track of the new album. The problem with the vocals being too quiet persists and combined with many people having not heard the song before, there is little reaction from the crowd. A track from second album Sweet Sour follows, but ‘You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Goin’ On’ still fails to cause any real excitement in the room.

Before launching into the band’s first single ‘I Know What I Am’, frontman Russell Marsden throws his plectrum into the crowd and for the first time this evening there is a bit of energy to speak of. It doesn’t last unfortunately, latest single ‘Nightmares’ returns the audience to a fairly static state.

The trend continues and even normal big hitters like ‘Patterns’ and ‘Bruises’ seem to miss the target this evening. I think a lot of the problem is due to the still unresolved issue of the quiet vocals. By the time Marsden announces “This is the second half, it’s injury time, better make the most of it” my hopes that the band will save the gig are fast disappearing.

With the band off stage, the call for an encore is the most noise the crowd has made all night. The encore arrives and the band rattle through ‘Sweet Sour’, ‘Light Of The Morning’ and finally finish with ‘Death By Diamonds And Pearls’.

I’ve been a Band Of Skulls fan for a while now, and I’ve seen them play excellent shows. Something wasn’t right tonight though. There were a handful of songs from the new album in the set list, but I don’t feel qualified to comment on them given I could barely hear the words. I suspect it was just an off night, and I hope they turn up the vocals for the rest of their tour.

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Adam Smith

There is nothing I'd rather be doing with my evenings than watching excellently crafted live music. In fact, there isn't much I'd rather be doing than watching half-decent live music. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same.