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Band of Skulls, Broken Hands

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ATL | 15:00 UK time, Monday, 27 February 2012

Band of Skulls, Broken Hands 
Limelight, Belfast
Sat  25th February 2012

Anybody in the audience could have been forgiven for thinking four lads had wandered in to the Limelight and just happened to find themselves on stage when Broken Hands emerged from among the crowd. Having not previously been aware there was a support band; they were an intriguing prospect, and ultimately a pleasant surprise. Without so much as a ‘hi, we’re the band’ the quartet propelled themselves into a frenzy of rocking guitars and aggressive, catchy vocals. The rawness of the White Stripes and reminiscences of the usual classic rock culprits was combined to devastating effect, with the edge and energy of an exciting new band just waiting to hit the big time. Their onstage modesty could be attributed to the nerves of inexperience, but when they got going each song had the polish of excellently composed rock and roll. Broken Hands will be back, but next time it’ll be them needing a support act!

By the time Band of Skulls took to the stage the venue was buzzing with activity. The limited front of stage floor space was a throng of people who, as one, rose in applause to welcome the main act. Band of Skulls bring a new dimension to the well coined label of ‘power trio’, with the inclusion of dual male and female vocals from Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson. As their studio albums depend heavily on the balance of the two voices, it was disappointing that at times Richardson’s lines were simply drowned out by the ferocity of the instruments behind her. The effects were more fully felt as the band’s ability to shift gears between all out chaos and near silence allowed Richardson’s voice to shine in the quieter sections. 

Material from the 2009’s ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’ dominated the set list, despite the recent release of the band’s new album ‘Sweet Sour.’ With more acoustic numbers on the new record it came as little surprise that the more stripped back songs were neglected in favour of the heavier sound that Band of Skulls made their name with. Classics ‘Death By Diamonds And Pearls,’ ‘Light Of The Morning,’ and ‘I Know What I Am’ went down as well as ‘The Devil Takes Care Of His Own’ and ‘Wanderluster’ from the new album with lyrics chanted back to almost every song.

Arguably the biggest cheer of the night was for a song Marsden described as their ‘oldest,’ as the large amount of pre-2009 fans were treated for their loyalty with a rendition of ‘Hollywood Bowl’. Unlikely closer of the set ‘Impossible’ created the space for drum, bass and guitar solos as the band left a satisfied Limelight crowd amidst ringing feedback and delay. With a sound almost too big for the smaller venues, it can only be a matter of time before Band of Skulls are regulars at festivals, tonight’s gig could have been one of the band’s last in such an intimate setting.

Daniel Lynch

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