Supported by powerful, Mumford and Sons-esque acoustic guitarist Tom Biggs, garage rockers and Southampton natives Band of Skulls thrilled an audience at one of their city’s best-loved venues, The Brook. The trio began their set with two new tracks, hinting at the probability of a second studio album in the works. Complementing their first album’s well-established tracks, these fresh offerings were often contemplatively mellow, if sometimes too tentatively so. However, these were well-balanced with other tracks’ driving riffs in the same vein as ‘I Know What I am’, which spearheaded the band’s debut album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, which celebrated its second birthday several days ago.
The set populated by so many quieter tracks, perhaps the band is attempting to distance itself from similar, heavier contemporaries The White Stripes and The Dead Weather. Nevertheless the biggest cheers were for ‘Fires’, ‘I Know What I Am’ and ‘Patterns’, finally birthed by tantalizingly lengthy intros. ‘Light of The Morning’ showcased the immensely crisp vocal talents of Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson, who boast seamless duets as precise as the group’s third voice – Marsden’s guitar, which completed a beautifully triangular ensemble.
The two-track encore somewhat awkwardly combined a timid new number with ‘Impossible’, one of the more uplifting tunes from the first album. But the band ended on a high. Fans were left wanting certain tracks, such as the popular ‘Honest’, but perhaps the band were afraid of an over-reliance on their studio album. Bringing new tracks into the fray is always a risky move, but last night the gamble paid off. With two floors, The Brook is a big space to fill, but Band of Skulls managed it with ease.
Good – Crisp studio-quality vocals supported by effortless guitar and hammering bass. A reliable trio which won’t leave you unsatisfied.
Bad – If you’re looking for a pulse-pounding band you can jump to, you may want to look elsewhere. Fans may also be disappointed by too many slow, melodious tracks.
9/10 – one to watch