Concerts Concerts Band of Skulls Burn Up The Phoenix

Band of Skulls Burn Up The Phoenix

Band Of Skulls at The Phoenix
Band Of Skulls
We Are Augustines
Pheonix Concert Theatre in Toronto, ON
March 30th, 2012

Review by: Katie Christensen
Photos by: Allison Janzen

Packed to the brim with the air edging on humid, the sold out crowd at the Phoenix silenced as the speakers thundered a thematic tune. With lights dimmed, three bodies emerged and the cheers of assent erupted.

Band Of Skulls

Fresh off their release with second album Sweet Sour the Southampton trio clearly has some new material to show off and an even tighter stage performance since their last visit to The Garrison in September. Clearly touring with The Black Keys and showcasing more then a few tracks in commercials has upped the ante on this already electrifying band.

"Sweet Sour" does such a perfect job opening the sophomore album with its Sabbath-esque metal sized riffs and sugary harmonies. It only seemed fitting to start the night off with this careening face-melting number. Immediately the audience was bellowing back the impossibly catchy and yowling lyrics "sour by the minute but you're sweeter by the hour." Russel Marsden (vocals, guitar), Matt Hayward (drums) and Emma Richardson (vocals, bass) were matching in decked out black, the band seemed more like siblings with their disheveled shoulder length hair. Richardson reflected the coloured lights in her black sequin top (and slightly more quaffed main) like the disco ball hanging above the crowd. All eyes were fixated on her as she started into "Lies" where she takes the lead vocally. It's the first song that was finished on the new record, setting the tone for both the album and the evening.

Standing on the balcony, it seems fans were quite ecstatic as "Patterns" began as I saw consecutive clouds of smoke billowing from amidst the crowd, which I take as a proverbial nod. Off their hugely successful album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey the band must have understood our smoky gesture as next was the delectably evocative "Fires". It is songs like this that have established Band of Skulls as drum-bass-guitar trio forerunners where others may have fallen cliché. The next songs "Bruises" and "Wunderluster" were big and dynamic, the all encompassing tracks with howling falsetto's and dueling harmonies show just how far this Brit band has come. "Cold Fame", "Bomb" and "Blood" (my personal favorite) showcased the bands grittier rowdy side that we embraced so well on their breakthrough album, with all the fury and intensity still present.

Things slowed down a little with a sultry ballad "Lay My Head Down". Just as I started to give into the mellow and sway too and fro, the song unexpectedly ripped into a sexy hammer-on riff that unravels into a delicate bluesy guitar melody. Fans of the first album must have been in 'high' spirits as it dominated the set list. "Hollywood Bowl", "I Know What I Am", "Light in the Morning", "Death by Diamonds" and "Impossible" rocked the crowd and set off the obligatory smoke signals. However fast, obsessive and slightly contradictory "You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On" really stands out and thrusts Band Of Skulls headfirst into White Stripes territory. "Devil Takes Care of His Own" is the perfect choice for an encore, a symbolic bridge between the first and the second album. This blazing track with ambling guitars and resonating slides accentuates the bands ferocity and caps the night off on the perfect note.

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We Are Augustines

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