Band of Skulls. Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth 6.12.19
End of a second week without a gig and I cracked. A spur of the moment trip to the Pyramids Centre on Southsea Common to see a relatively new band for me: Band of Skulls. OK so they’re 10 years old and tonight they finish their tour showcasing their first album, released in 2009, ‘Baby Darling Doll Faced Honey’. That’s still relatively recent for me.
I first heard Band of Skulls (BoS) on a live festival appearance on TV when they played ‘The Devil takes care of his own’. This all sounds like they’re going to be dark and scary but not at all – indie rock with a lot of guitar and with a bit of garage sound and blues which has a Black Keys sound at times.
‘The Devil takes care of his own’ in session on Radio 1:
An early Skulls gig
My first Band of Skulls (BoS) gig was possibly one of their highlights as they returned to their home town of Southampton for what was was a big one at the Guildhall. I bought the live recording on signed CD thinking this was a tour gimmick but this appears to be an official release that was only done at the Southampton gig. Really good recording, properly but rapidly done and got out within half an hour of the encores.
I did try and see them in California that year. We were on holiday and in San Diego when they were playing at The House of Blues. I rocked up earlier in the day and was disappointed to find it was sold out. My pleading and Englishness got me nowhere and we were staying far enough away that trying outside for spares later wasn’t on.
Victorious Festival 2017
Next opportunity was the now annual trip to the Victorious Festival on Southsea Common, about 100 yards from tonight’s gig.
A great performance with big sound, big lights and huge crowd bolstered by their Southampton/ Portsmouth fan base. One of my favourite performances of that year’s festival. This was on The Castle Stage, the second stage.
As always – all photos are my own, even blurred ones – unless stated.
They were at Victorious again this year but I missed them due to a clash of interests – while they played an afternoon slot on the main ‘Common Stage’, I was wrecking my knees watching a relative play in Offbeat Offensive in a tent.
Pyramids Centre 6.12.19
For more background on the unusual but convenient Pyramids Centre see my Psychedelic Furs blog, link below. My only added note would be to check out the Southsea Rock Garden to the east side of the complex – a little park. If you’re looking for a convenient hotel another tip I offer is Q8 on Clarence Road. Sea views available.
Tonight’s gig doesn’t seem that full at all which surprises me. Maybe it’s that time of year with parties and stuff on a Friday night. There’s some refurbishment work going on at the rear of the pyramid where the bands play. Only one bar open but loads of staff and it’s not busy.
Support band Higher Peaks kick off. A short set lifted when Russell and Emma from Band of Skulls join them on stage.
BoS take the stage and do, as promised set about their first album, ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’. The twist is a brilliant acoustic section in the middle.
Sound is good. Loud and clear. Great guitar and pedals which lead the sound – this is a bit indie rock meets prog – maybe the hairdos are influencing me.
Just three in the band: Russell Marsden on guitar and vocals and Emma Richardson on bass and beautiful vocals, and I now realise the original drummer has gone. I noticed looking at my older photos that he was different. Original drummer Matt Hayward left in 2017 and Julian Dario plays with them.
‘Fires’ is the track with the first album title lyric…Baby Darling Doll Faced Honey, and this clip illustrates that indie meets prog sound I was getting at:
After the first album material we get some faves. These include ‘Sweet Sour’ and, perhaps of course, ‘The Devil takes care of his own’.
Really pleased we came out and over to Southsea tonight. We hang about for a promised appearance at the merch stand. Partner Sally picked up a picture disc of ‘Devil’, original cut apparently which she got Russell and Emma to sign.
Just one more clip as a Band of Skulls highlight – in case I haven’t convinced you to listen to more. ‘Himalayan’ on Jools Holland: