Thursday, 16 February 2012

Band of Skulls LIVE@XOYO


Last night’s gig at Old Streets XOYO to see Band of Skulls started where the majority of my reviews start…in a bar. Not the venue where the show will take place but a little haunt near the venue that won’t be too crowded, has a good jukebox and serves some kind of bar snacks. The atmosphere is one of Kerouac quotes, Sid Vicious portraits and the music manages to tightrope between well chosen and random acts of shuffle. As the drinks are consumed and the blanket of warmness protects me from the cold I start to ‘think write’ the piece you the reader are reading at this moment. As my journey from the 9-5 meant I’d be a good hour and half early for this evening’s festivity it seemed only necessary that I should frequent a few bars on the way and fully take in the ambiance of Old Street and gap-year life.

By the time I entered the venue shortly after half past 8 I was fully prepared to ignore the bottled beer and plastic glasses and instead absorb the venue and crowd reactions. The first band on were the relatively new Static Jacks who seemed so happy and professional to be here you couldn’t help but will them to do good (great drummer to.) There were a few tuning problems that weren’t even close enough for jazz but mostly the songs were fast, direct and to the point. The only downside was the posturing and carefully prepared ‘crazy’ moves by the lead singer which seemed to draw attention to the in-authenticity of the set but overall their slot was one that showed promise once their direction has been fully finalised.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. were the 2nd act on and for me they presented a genuine surprise with their mix of The Beta Band and Flaming Lips structures. The group themselves played a well arranged and exciting pop set with band members casually swapping between string and percussion instrumentation throughout while managing to keep their own musical ideals strong in each song. They are definitely one to watch and I will be foraging for their records.

The main act tonight was the mighty Band of Skulls, a band in all honesty I hadn’t heard that much of. I had heard a few singles that I thought sounded a bit like the White Stripes (which is never a bad thing) but seeing them first hand running their set with gusto showed that I’m more than happy to take a seat and chow down on some humble pie with a side order of sour grapes as they are great in their own right. More Zeppelin than the Son House and Flat Duo Jets influence that lead Jack White in all his guises, Band of Skulls have definitely carved out their own style and sound and have complete control over their stage set.

Their set was full and long and included the first single from the new ‘Sweet Sour’ album (out 21st February) ‘The Devil Takes Care of His Own’ as well as ‘Patterns’ and ‘Death By Diamonds and Pearls’ from their debut and which were among the highlights. While each song is similar in their riff-verse-chorus arrangements the overall production and time signatures keep each one fresh from the previous and are stamped with their own fuzzy signature. Musically everyone is playing full tilt and with bassist/backing vocalist Emma Richardson deserving special kudos for matching Lead Singer and Guitar wizard Russell Marsden note for note throughout. While the duelling guitars fight it out it’s only down to the Bonham drums licks of Matt Hayward which hold everything together and keep it funky enough to stop the whole thing turning into Metal.

Tonight’s show was the forerunner for the bands Live UK tour and I believe throughout 2012 they will be one of the bands you should make an effort to see.

http://www.myspace.com/bandofskulls


Special thanks to Rhianon Davies at 9PR

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