The Verse’s Lennon Craig reviews Band of Skulls’ show at the Roundhouse on October 26th.
A cacophony of lights and apocalyptic strings ricochet around the ornate gothic cavern of the Roundhouse as the Band of Skulls take to the stage. Whistles and claps erupt from the sizeable crowd in attendance as the familiar motoric chug of bass and drums kick proceedings into gear.
Now four albums strong, the band is able to dive into their back catalogue in search of inspiration when required. Early on tonight, they are able to unleash their debut albums’ snarling opener, Light of the Morning, onto the masses before them. A stuttering drum introduction builds into a violently twisting blues-rock breakdown, inviting a few cold pints of beer to join the noise in swirling above the heads of those at the front.
The early momentum continues with the pneumatic riffs of Himalayan, which allows the band to raise the temperature and excitement levels another notch or two.
And then, inexplicably, they allow it to dissipate again. Perhaps no one at the venue has bothered to listen to the new album, By Default, yet. Maybe the band just aren’t as confident playing it as they are with the old favourites, but there’s a discernible mid-set slump that accompanies the introduction of the newer tracks into a tried and tested set list.
The slump continues with a series of mid-paced, formulaic blues rock songs that do nothing to inspire anyone but the hardcore bobbing away front and centre. The guy wearing the trucker hat throwing devil horns loves it, though.
It’s not until the riveting reintroduction of fan favourites Hoochie Coochie, Devil Takes Care of His Own, and Death by Diamonds and Pearls in quick succession that the majority of the crowd are awakened from their head bobbing slumber. Instantaneously singable vocals finally combine with driving instrumentalism in what appears to be a triumphant finish to an inconsistent evening.
That is, until the encore of I Know What I Am and Asleep At The Wheel are wheeled out. Equal parts friskily anthemic and immensely powerful, both serve as a reminder for the massive sound this band can create when all is successful. Unfortunately for them tonight, even after 7 years of touring, it’s something they’re yet to perfect.