Band Of Skulls at Albert Hall in Manchester review

James Clarke gives his views on 'one of the best live shows of the year' from the blues-rock behemoths.

Ben Smith

Last updated: 25th Oct 2016

Image: Band Of Skulls

Band Of Skulls proved yet again that they are one of the most accomplished guitar bands around as they left Manchester’s Albert Hall begging for more.

This tour marked the first real outing for the band’s newest album By Default and the forgotten Wesleyan chapel provided the idyllic surroundings for them to showcase material both new and old.

Working their way through new songs like ‘In Love By Default’ from their latest release, the Southampton three-piece set their stall out to deliver a no-holds barred blues-rock spectacular.

Since their arrival onto the scene with Baby Darling Doll Face Honey in 2009, Band of Skulls have developed a glittering catalogue of songs. Not only has the band seen commercial success since this first release, they have also developed set favourites that the fans demand every time.

This show was no different. As the rousing intro to ‘Light of the Morning’ (listen above) kicked in, the band halted proceedings as the anticipation reached fever pitch. Vocalist Russell Marsden replayed the intro, before rattling through to the finish.

By this point they already had the 2000 or so gig-goers in the palm of their hands, as they made their way through a thunderous set under the moody bright lights of the old Manchester Chapel.

The funk-infused ‘Himalayan’ from the 2014 namesake album maintained the night’s momentum, followed by the newly released ‘Black Magic.’ More recent songs such as the sketchy, guitar-filled ‘So Good’ and ‘Bodies’ showed that this material is as equally well received by the crowd.

Thrashing their way through a setlist spanning material from the band’s quadrant of albums, the South-coast trio attempted to wrap up proceedings in spectacular fashion. The sluggish blues of ‘Devil Takes Care of His Own’ was immediately followed by the mosh pit-inducing ‘Death By Diamonds and Pearls (listen above).

Both of these crowd-pleasers are big enough to fill the walls of the more imperious Manchester Arena situated down the road - a feat well within the grasp of this experienced 3-piece.

As the band returned to the stage for their encore, they were greeted with another rapturous round of applause. The finale saw them bring out the big guns as they rattled through another early favourite ‘I Know What I Am,’ before finishing emphatically with ‘Asleep at the Wheel (listen below).

“Where we are going is anyone’s guess” rang around the venue from the last song’s chorus. Judging by this performance, Band of Skulls are refusing to quietly exit a musical landscape that might not favour their classic all out guitar approach.

Leaving the stage for the final time, the Manchester crowd were treated to one of the best live shows of the year. Authentic, no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll that was great fun from start to finish.

Like this? Check out Band Of Skulls 'By Default' review

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