Tendrils of smoke drifted into the crowd as the three members of Band of Skulls took the main stage at the Black Cat on Tuesday, October 4th.
Amidst the dissipating smoke, they immediately started with “In Love By Default” from their new album, By Default. They played a mere four songs from that album, and all early on. The highlight of the new crop of songs is the upbeat “So Good”. Russell Marsden’s guitar intro grabbed you and gave us among the healthy-sized crowd a reason to move and nod their heads in unison. I’m still humming it now.
The intensity ratcheted up a few notches with the third song of the set, “Himalayan”, bringing a furious round of guitar and bass, that truly define the bluesy, rock anthem sound of Band of Skulls.
Russell’s mantra throughout the evening was “we’re going to play as many songs as we can fit in!” and they did their part amiably, rocking through 20 songs in about 1-1/2 hours.
They dedicated the humorously titled “You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Going On” to their mothers and just over halfway through they played “I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying”, which may need to go down as one of my favorite song titles ever conceived.
Band of Skulls is Russell Marsden (vocals and guitar), Emma Richardson (vocals and bass) and Matt Hayward (drums). Both Russell and Emma brought fierce energy to each song, whether playing guitar and bass or singing solo or together. Every time I looked at Emma’s side of the stage, she had a coy smile as if she was either enjoying playing to the enthused crowd or remembering a well-received dirty joke. As to which one, it shall remain a mystery.
From Southampton, England, they started out with the moniker Fleeing New York, before changing it to their current name, I assume because they someday wanted to play in New York. They released their first album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, in 2009. By Default, released in May, is their fourth album.
They closed out the main set with the massive riffs from “Hoochie Coochie” and “The Devil Takes Care of His Own”. They came back for an encore with the song that first got them on the rock map “I Know What I Am” (it came to me as an iTunes free Single of the Week) and finished with gusto on “Asleep at the Wheel”.
All told, they played a heap of songs (20), as Russell promised. They focused mostly on their first album (7 songs) and their third album, Himalayan (6 songs), which possibly by no coincidence, in my opinion, are their two best albums.
Next time they strut through DC, make it a point to see them live! Then make it a habit.
In Love By Default
Light of the Morning
You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Going On
Brothers and Sisters
I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying
I Guess I Know You Fairly Well
The Devil Takes Care of His Own
Death by Diamonds and Pearls
I Know What I Am
Asleep at the Wheel