Band of Skulls planted their crossbones on Copenhagen’s shores for the first time on Tuesday. The UK three-piece descended on Lille Vega to bestow an hour and a half of musical treasure.
The rocking trio opened the show with the title track from their latest album Sweet Sour, each lashing their long hair along with the music. From the outset it was clear all three members owned their instruments. Emma Richardson (vocals, bass) danced her fingertips along the strings, Russell Marsden (guitar, vocals) switched between five different guitars and Matthew Hayward made seemingly impossible tempo changes look breezy behind the kit.
The band was all in black. Richardson brandished a retro shark tooth necklace and oozed confidence and style, with a swagger worthy of Keith Richards. While Hayward let his limbs run wild, pounding the drums like an extremely well-groomed orangutan, his sheets of straight hair hung limp over his face.
Richardson tapped out the intro of their second song, ‘Lies’, on a wine bottle. For ‘Patterns’, they introduced some killer distortion as Hayward bashed some awesome fill-ins. Four songs in came ‘Fires’, another tune from their first album – Baby Darling Doll Face Honey (2009) – and Marsden picked up his third guitar for the night. One of their influences, The Black Keys, rang through loud and clear in ‘Blood’, which also featured a Jimi Hendrix –style guitar solo. And it might as well have been Jack White singing ‘Hollywood Bowl’ and ‘I Know What I Am’. Richardson and Marsden created wonderful harmonies, with the female vocal bringing some pleasant lightness, as heard in ‘Bruises’.
Swept away by the frantic energy emanating from the stage, the crowd cheered loudly after Marsden introduced ‘You Aren’t Pretty But You Got It Going On’ as their “fastest and loudest song”. The revellers, most of which were men, let their heads loll with the music while the enthusiastic teens clad in predictable band t-shirts violently chewed gum in time.
But it was difficult to keep the rhythm for much of the show. Band of Skulls cleverly upped and slowed the tempo within tracks, adding face-melting solos and fill-ins whilst remaining unbelievably tight throughout. They even cheekily tacked ‘Death By Diamonds and Pearls’ to the end of ‘Light of the Morning’. Their only slip came during ‘Lay My Head Down’ when they cocked up the count-in, but no complaints otherwise.
After making a sizeable dint in their music catalogue, the band said a polite thank you to Copenhagen and sauntered off stage before being coaxed back for a two-track encore – ‘The Devil Takes Care of His Own’ and ‘Impossible’. The aftertaste was definitely sweet, not sour.