Band of Skulls, Roundhouse, London



Band of Skulls have found the previously unknown, perilously small sweet spot between Kings of Leon and the Magic Numbers. This mixture of clean-hitting hard rock and boy-girl harmonies has given the Southampton trio spots on Mustang car ads and Twilight movie soundtracks in the US, success which has been slower at home.

A support slot on the Black Keys’ Alexandra Palace gigs and their second album, Sweet Sour, hitting the Top 20 preceded this biggest UK headline show to date. The band have joked that their two-fold approach means they can rock out at rough venues with barbed-wire stages, and go soft at intimate affairs. They’re mostly in rock mode tonight, playing safe and punching as hard as they can.

A third element in their mildly incongruous sound is guitarist-singer Russell Marsden’s tendency, as on opener 'Sweet Sour', to adopt the distorted funk shriek of Prince circa 'Purple Rain'. The stuttering 1980s synth-pop beat beneath 'Patterns'' steady, stalking rock adds to the dance music textures. It’s the trick Kings of Leon have pulled all the way to the top, giving a clipped techno edge to what would otherwise be unremarkable, sub-Zeppelin rock. As the glitterball spins during 'I Know What I Am', Marsden’s harmonies with bassist and co-singer Emma Richardson break out their other side, in a song that’s soft then hard and mildly swinging.  A girl near me who was gently head-banging to an earlier song rolls her shoulders and sings along: the secret of their success.

Nearby the previous night, I saw Brooklyn band We Are Augustines pass champagne round the crowd, voluble with joy at getting a record out and headlining a pub in exotic north London. Band of Skulls are too British for such a moving display of pleasure at their good fortune. Marsden’s thanks before 'Bruises' are heartfelt but slackly inarticulate. Maybe an old song, 'Hollywood Bowl', as dreamed from the English south coast, says how far they’ve travelled for them. The night’s purest pastiche, it has the most heart. Drummer Matthew Hayward, long hair sweat-drenched and flying, makes it a showstopper. 'Hometowns', the song which really addresses where they’re from, is left out. Crowd and band leave happy. But the feeling persists that Band of Skulls’ doubtless natural sound is a compromise, too anaemic to ever quite charm or excite.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk