Band of Skulls @ Vogue © Andy Scheffler

Live Review: Band of Skulls @ The Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – September 16th 2016

Band of Skulls popped by to play a few tunes for us, touring behind their latest album By Default. That said, they picked out songs spanning their repertoire throughout the night, even carrying off a couple numbers they claim they rarely or never have played live. The show was solid, the music foot-stompingly infectious, and the audience was enthusiastic about it all, yet somehow I come away from this show with not a whole lot to say about it. They didn’t say much – the stage presence is fine for what it is, particularly bassist Emma Richardson creeping around her side of the stage – the lighting was dark and moody. Strobe lights flashed away from time to time, and the stage was plummeted into sudden darkness to punctuate the sudden ends of many songs. Other songs kind of dribbled out to a non-committed finish. Singer/guitarist Russell Marsden did make his way around a lot of the stage, lifting his hand in a sort of ‘come on’ gesture and tesing the audience by leaning out with his guitar held out as far as possible while still being playable, as if he were going to let the audience have a go as they stretched their arms out towards him in revelry. The crowd loved this sort of thing. Drummer Matt Hayward is a force behind his kit, driving, along with Richardson’s bass, the big, chuggy tempo of many of their blues-riddled rock n roll songs. However, he has additional music skills, joining the band on acoustic guitar for the song they never played live, “Honest,” off their debut LP. This was a mellow one, and they kept the pace slow as they followed that with “Cold Fame.” The audience was ready to get back to the rock n roll after that, despite a few lighters popping up to sway during this chilled out interlude. By the end of the set, we’d had some reasonable moshing, a few crowdsurfers, and some shoulder-riders that security was unable to do anything about. In the end, they got a standing ovation, even from the balcony crowd, who largely remained standing once the band came back out for an encore. The true end of the show was signaled by Marsden sliding his guitar far along the stage and leaving it there as the house lights popped back up. The show was great. It was great times. It was fun, solid, danceable, great times. Just because nothing overly noteworthy occurred doesn’t take anything away from this band’s performance. Classic rock needs no gimmicks – that is sort of the point. They are well worth a viewing.


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