Shaking the O2 Academy with their hard hitting bluesy rock and roll, Getintothis’ Lauren Jones catches one of the most exciting trios around.
With a string of tracks gracing our TV screens, Southampton rock trio Band of Skulls have snuck up into mainstream consciousness since forming six years ago.
This year has seen the release of their third studio album Himalayan, which has received nodding approval from the music press, so the pressure was on to see whether they could live up to their rising status.
Clouded by the smog of Bonfire night, the O2 Academy housed potentially the most commercially apt rock’n’roll threesome of the decade, playing host to a ghoulish feast.
Laying over a soundtrack of classic tunes hand-picked by the band themselves, minor foot tapping had already begun, however without a warning came to a standstill as four samurai-waving dementors shuffled upon stage, keeping their heads down and the audience hushed, Bo Ningen had arrived.
The Japanese quartet, who had played Liverpool earlier this year, squealed down the mic briefly before releasing an array of wild enrapturing beats. Possessed by enslaving riffs, front man Taigen Kawabe threw some captivating moves, winding his wrists around the neck of his guitar to signal towards the back of the room.
Mesmerised by Kawabe’s energetic spirit, our eyes never left the stage. Tracks such as Kaifuku and CC ruptured the air, shaking the audience to move and vibrating the floor below. Taking one break amongst their heavily addictive set, they had wide-eyed kids standing bewildered, feeding off the acid-punk that had streamed into their pulped brains. Once their sad departure had come, many jaws had dropped to the floor, bewitched by the outstanding artistry Bo Ningen had so effortlessly thrown upon us.
Nine o’clock approached and eyes were clocking watches, the lights dimmed, people wolf whistled but no-one came. For several more minutes there was uncertainty in the air before Band of Skulls’ eventual arrival, who calmly strutted on stage to a huge uproar.
Opening their set with Light of the Morning, a sexy swaying followed the impeccable guitar playing from Russell Marsden, with a stunning solo slowing to a heart beating pace. He continued to charm us with his southern wit, a frontman with so much to give yet so modest in character. Allowing us to recover, the title track from new album Himalayan sucked every ounce of sanity from the audience.
Enticing us with tracks such as Patterns, bassist Emma Richardson had an array of prolonged wolf whistles due to the sophistication she oozes so graciously. Convulsing with the groove of her bass, Richardson held us captive, and had the audience in the palm of her hand. The penultimate track and crowd favourite Sweet Sour had the whole floor quaking under the sheer pressure of the vibrations.
Drummer Matthew Hayward provided an encapsulating beat, almost satanic in the way it weaved between Marsden’s prowess and guitar licks. As soon as I Know What I Am began, we all feared the worst, the end was nigh as the threesome left before returning for their encore, treating the crowd to an extra three tracks. Closing with Hollywood Bowl, the band left their audience begging for more, sadly to no avail, leaving plenty of broken hearts around the venue.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam.