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Live Music Review Nothing super-special from the Skulls

MIK SABIERS sees Southampton’s heavy rockers deliver a competent rather than inspiring set

Band of Skulls
Scala, London

EXPONENTS of classic hard rock, but done with a twist, Southampton’s Band of Skulls recently dropped new single Carnivorous online, crashing their website such was the demand to download it.

“We’ve been in the studio making a record all year long, now we’re gonna play you some new songs,” declares lead singer and guitarist Russell Marsden, who’s joined by Emma Richardson on bass and vocals as the now slimmed-down band — the original drummer left in 2016 — get the riffs rocking.

Drums courtesy of Julian Doro from The Whigs kick in, Richardson’s bass echoes the beat while Marsden’s guitar wails — it’s accomplished and tight but the audience watch rather than rock out. The first half-hour melds identikit rock that stays in its comfort zone and gets cheered rather than revered.

Gradually those cheers louden and the mosh pit gets more frenzied as the music takes its lead from Led Zep crossed with shades of Exile-era Stones, stirs in some Sabbath and adds classic 1970s hard rock and plain old heavy rock ’n’ roll.

The band plough their back catalogue and the set builds to a crescendo with closer and fan-favourite Death by Diamonds and Pearls, which gets the audience singing along.

Overall, it’s an accomplished set but nothing super-special. They know how to write a tune and the surfeit of guitars used by Marsden shows off his virtuosity, which makes the encore a bit odd.

Returning, shorn of their guitars, and jumping into the crowd, Marsden and Richardson make a go of that new single, singing over a rhythmic dance beat that takes them in a different direction.

It goes down well, but more thanks to effort. They’re best when they power out the recognisable riffs and heavy rock the audience have come to expect and there’s no shame in that.

 Band of Skulls new album will be released in 2019, details bandofskulls.com.

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