Southampton based trio Band of Skulls sure have come a long way since their formation back in 2004. They created quite an underground buzz with their 2009 debut ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’ in all its sassy rock ‘n’ roll glory, touring up and down the country quietly building an army of fans. Fast forward a few years and the band are rounding up what has been an excellent 2012 for them having hit the big rooms with The Black Keys at the start of the year then spending the summer playing stadiums with Red Hot Chilli Peppers in the summer, and if that wasn’t enough they’re going to kick off the new year supporting Muse around Europe, slaying the stadium’s once more!
But tonight, is all about them as they proudly strut onto the stage of The Ritz with McCartney’s ‘Live and Let Die’ blaring out all part of their biggest headline tour to date. And before we even have a chance to register that they’ve even walked on, – due to the crowd screaming out everyone’s favourite bond tune – feedback roars, drums tremble and we’re straight into the pounding, guitar twiddling intro of ‘Sweet Sour’ the opening and title track to their superb second album. It’s a perfect opener that shows off their riffs, rock ‘n’ roll energy and strong vocal harmonies, and with songs like this it’s easy to see why 2012 has been such a good year for the Skulls. And if that wasn’t enough to get you all riled up, they launch straight into the albums second track ‘Bruises’ which boasts the most head banging chorus I’ve heard in years and is a big fist pumping sing-a-long for the crowd.
Something that really shines through the set tonight is the band’s knack of the dynamic, going from softer, melodic moments to massive rock outs, first album tracks ‘Fires’ and a more beefed up rendition of album closer ‘Cold Fame’ convey this perfectly. Elsewhere the band switch from danceable grooves (Patterns), monstrous blues rock riffage (‘The Devil Takes Care Of His Own’/ ‘Bomb’) to straight up roof raising anthems (‘I Know What I Am’/ ‘Death by Diamonds and Pearls’).
With the in-between song banter kept to a minimum, the band find other ways of hyping the crowd by banging out the tunes, adding little jam’s to the starts of the songs and closing most songs with proper rock ‘n’ wig outs with some proper cool drum solo’s. Closing with the epic psychedelica of ‘Impossible’, the whole room bounces and nods in unison, clinging on the final embers of what has a been a thoroughly enjoyable set by a band who’s travels have seen them become an extremely tight and powerful live act. Get down the front while you can!