Band of Skulls have been making waves in all the right music industry waters. From playing the illustrious Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee as well as sold-out shows in Los Angeles and New York, the British trio have now brought their seductive sound to Canada, starting right here in Toronto last night at the Garrison.
You’ve probably heard Band of Skulls even if you think you haven’t. The band’s music has appeared in numerous soundtracks and ad campaigns over the last 18 months including the Twilight soundtrack, Ford Mustang commercial, the new Hugo Boss advert, as well as the trailer for the film Hangover Part II. It’s no secret as to why this band is infiltrating every aspect of popular culture. Part blues, part country, with something unmistakably modern and English in their essence, Russell Marsden (guitar & vocals), Emma Richardson (bass & vocals) and Matthew Hayward (drums) have found the magical concoction that makes music lovers swoon. Last night they dazzled fans with songs from their debut Baby Darling Dollface Honey, and songs from their much anticipated forthcoming record (scheduled for release in early 2012).
The Garrison was packed. The sense of anticipation in the air was heavy, and a rush of applause met the appearance of the band on stage. Band of Skulls opened with “Sweet Sour”, undoubtedly from the new record, and if that song is any indication, it’s going to be a great album indeed. Marsden and Hayward epitomized the 70s rock star hippie look, while Richardson held herself with the grace and mystery of a sixties era French model. Their aura was calm and confident. They performed without much banter, but when they spoke they were ever so polite and perfectly British. Marsden and Richardson harmonized beautifully on “Fires”, the sweet ballad from Baby Darling Dollface Honey, but the clear fan favourite was “ Light of the Morning”, leading to much singing along and air guitar (perhaps by yours truly). Marsden unleashed a rolling guitar solo during “Death by Diamonds and Pearls”, accompanied by a Hayward’s pounding drums. A hypnotizingly slowed down intro to “I Know What I Am” only served to whip the crowd into a bigger frenzy of thrashing and dancing. The set closing “Hollywood Bowl” had a drawn out ending, as if the band didn’t want to leave the stage, or their fans behind. Breakneck drums, throbbing bass and pummelling drums drew out the finale of the song, almost drowned out by furious cheers and applause as Band of Skulls bowed into the background.
They did not remain hidden for long. In less than a minute Band of Skulls jumped back in for their most welcome encore, clearly enthusiastic for their show to go on. “Bruises” from the new record started things off, again, very well received from the audience, and the show was finally closed with “Impossible”, perfectly apt, as surely it would have been impossible to truly satisfy the crowd unless they continued to play on forever.
All in all, Band of Skulls put on a stellar performance. Their live show was beyond true to their album, their energy relaxed with an underlying intensity that was infectious. The small and intimate venue was perfectly suited to their sound. A band of this calibre won’t be playing small clubs for long, so it was a truly a privilege to catch them at the Garrison.