If Band of Skulls’ collective childhood dream was to simply become as badass and as rock’n’roll as humanly possible, I can wholeheartedly say that they have succeeded. On the 25th of October, Band of Skulls transformed Nottingham’s Rock City into a church hall of dark, bluesy rock, welcoming people from all walks of life into their flock. Everything from their stage set, the church hall where their latest album By Default was written, to their choice of support, Bones, was nothing less than spectacular.
Atmospheric strikes of Russell Marsden’s guitar kept the audience in suspense as the band lead into title track ‘In Love By Default’ which, needless to say, got the juices flowing. From here on in the rock’n’roll threesome refused to hold back, playing hit after hit leaving the crowd in awe of their presence and considerably bruised from endless moshing.

Midway through, the band very creatively changed the pace, with drummer Matt Hayward magicing an acoustic guitar seemingly from nowhere, bringing the opening to incredible hit ‘Cold Flame‘ from their debut. As bassist Emma Richardson and Russell’s vocals began reaching the hearts of the audience, the venue filed with light from two disco balls suspended from the ceiling, creating an amazing, intimate moment between band and fans as the lyrics were sang softly back and forth between them. It was clear this moment meant as much to the band as it did the audience, which is a rare experience nowadays.

However, this was simply the calm before the storm, as they let rip once again with rock masterpieces ‘The Devil Takes Care‘, ‘Death by Diamond and Pearls’ and with an encore of ‘Asleep at the Wheel’ and ‘I know what I am’, rounding off a near-perfect set list.

With such monster performances like this, it’s pretty clear Band Of Skulls are once again establishing themselves as Kings and Queens of Rock.

Dan Woodhead

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The intimidating stature of Rock City did not deter Southampton rockers Band of Skulls from enthralling the crowd in a natural and care free manner. Seeping with the essence of coolness, frontman Russell Marsden had everyone under his spell and the entire band could not hold back their enthusiasm. “Touring is the antidote to writing” explained drummer Matt Hayward in our interview beforehand and judging by the performance, it had been a long tough writing period.

The start was full of suspense with Marsden enigmatically sustaining one note and surprisingly going into the light and dreamy ‘In Love By Default’. The rest of the set is met with the sludgy blues-rock noise the band is known for; it’s simple, raw rock’n’roll executed seamlessly with the swagger and bravado of any good American band. While the new album By Default gets the limelight, the set-list bounces around the four-album discography much to the delight of the fans.

However, the band is not a one trick pony as an intimate rendition of debut album track Cold Fame was met with a sing-a-long, sways and disco balls draped from the ceiling. From Marsden’s incredible stage presence to Hayward’s energy and Emma Richardson’s thundering basslines this is a band in a very good position and they know it. The By Default tour is set to be loud, raucous, unapologetic and worth every penny.

Sam Wallace