Band of Skulls are a three piece band from Southhampton, UK who is stepping out from the shadows and on the verge of an explosion in the United States. Their high-throttled mix of blues and rock and roll is at times reminiscent of the late 1960’s and early 70’s that saw guitar great, Eric Clapton at the centerpiece of some of the great early blues rock bands.
Following recent tours that highlighted Band of Skulls alongside headliners like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse, the three piece band is in the middle of their own, headlining American tour that has swept them through the heart of Texas, high into the Rocky Mountains, up along the eastern and western shore board and into the great Pacific Northwest. The latest stop happened last night in San Diego as the downtown hub of the House of Blues was ignited with raw energy as an edgy dose of blues was delivered with a rocking rhythm section and a searing lead guitar. Tunes like I Know What I Am had the audience shuffling and shimmying, rocking, rolling, clapping and bouncing to the infections tunes of Band of Skulls.
With each bend of the whammy bar and each heart pumping baseline that filled the downtown venue, the energy of the audience simmered and simmered, before reaching a high-hitting crescendo on Hoochie Coochie, from their latest release, Himalayan. The tune started as a driving beat, while high voiced lyrics from lead guitar player, Russell Marsden cut through the air in a bluesy fashion that would make Clapton take notice, while the rhythm section of bassist Emma Richardson and drummer, Matt Hayward kept the strong and steady groove. The song then shifted gears into a heavy and fuzz-filled jam that was reminiscent of Tony Iommi’s work with Black Sabbath. It was pure drive and pure rock and roll, and for a full hour and a half the audience gobbled it up, pumped their fists and pounded their feet to the UK rockers.
The song Cold Fame started out easy and slow, meandering its way through a soft-delivery from Marsden and into a gut-wrenching chorus of “Cold fame in my brain, but it’s okay cause I know it’s the best for me.” It is a song that cuts straight to the heart of music as it tugs on heart strings and stirs up a burning lust for rock and roll and the raw mixed emotions of anguish and joy that can be summed up into a song. Band of Skulls are a group that can deliver the raw and heartfelt songs, and then toss at the audience dance grooves as they do in I Know What I Am, and hard-hitting tunes like Light of the Morning.
Fans may just be discovering the highly addictive Band of Skulls, but seeing them in smaller venues may soon be a thing of the past as their popularity continues to grow and they make their rounds across the country and to other parts of the world. They are another band that has returned to the blues roots, in a way that made groups like The White Stripes so popular, and as The Black Keys have done throughout the last decade. Their blues-based sound is propelling the hard-rocking group closer to stardom, on the verge of a full-on rock and roll explosion, so while they are playing small and dingy dives and music venues, music fans need to take the time to see the trio from Southampton, UK.
Opinion by Johnny Caito