Live Review: Band Of Skulls – Manchester

Band Of Skulls

Albert Hall, Manchester, 21st October 2016

Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Elena Katrina

band of skulls elena katrinaManchester’s Albert Hall is a special venue, and the mix of the high ceilings yet the intimate size of the crowd was perfect for showcasing the sounds of Southampton’s Band of Skulls. As the European leg of their world tour was starting, the night felt like a band on the cusp of something greater than themselves. Their most recent album, By Defualt , has mixed the band’s trademark rock sound with a more Millennial Gothic approach, with some moments more akin to The XX, but the synth sounds were not at the forefront of the live approach. There was no room for the genteel, this was clear, crisp rock music with a hint of traditional Transatlantic AOR. Whilst the term Adult Orientated Rock is generally used to snarkily criticise someone, in this context it was the only way I could convey how their music seemed so potentially successful. The sound reminded me of so many American rock acts and a short-named, globally enormous Dublin four piece (although, thankfully not their Pop period). The sound of Band of Skulls is made for big venues.


It was a night with a strong theme running through it in terms of the support act, the aptly named Bones. It was skeletally named bands with American rock influences. But whereas Band of Skulls represent the sound of America, Bones must have been formed in a back street in Camden with a direct connection to The City of Angels as lead vocalist Rosie Bones channelled the power and variety of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello and their virtuoso guitarist, Carmen Vandenberg, seemed powered by the legendary Slash after he had left Stoke-on-Trent. I could not begin to tell you anything about the drummer because this duo dominated the performance in a way that made you want to grab a guitar and try to shake the foundations of this old building.

band of skulls elena kartinaI think the most impressive aspect of Band of Skulls for me, as a newcomer to their music, was how natural everything feels as they play. There were no choreographed rock god moves, yet the band were not so still on stage that you felt any discomfort for them or that they were searching for intensity. The band make you feel part of the event and not just because of the roaring power in their play thumping against you constantly, but an element of that is the volume they naturally play at. It makes the music feel as though it is all around you, holding you in a hug of togetherness, encouraging you to, in my case, guess the words to the soaring chorus so you can sing along.


I think that Band of Skulls should be massive, stadium massive, so much bigger than they already are. I am convinced of this. Their fan base is wide, with a good chunk of the crowd who I would have expected usually only turn up at nostalgia gigs. They have everything going for them and they are more than ready to conquer the world and not by default.


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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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