A homecoming Christmas gig is the perfect gift for loyal fans, and for Hamilton metal fans Christmas came early. An enthusiastic queue of waiting fans weaved its way well down the road as the doors at Altitude opened, and Devilskin t-shirts of old and new made their way into the venue. Opening acts Skinny Hobos and City Of Souls took a leaf from Devilskin’s book of self promotion, both had merch stalls worth checking out with a good range of product to help fund their cause.
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos kicked off early and captured the crowd’s attention right away with their mix of psychedelic grooves and loop pedal trickery. Drawing as much influence from The White Stripes as they do from Black Sabbath, the duo were intense and exciting to watch. Nicely blended vocals and stage presence helped the band kick the opening slot out of the park.
The crowd continued to filter in, filling the venue to a comfortable squeeze by the time City Of Souls made their entrance. While the band was missing one of their three guitarists due to the arrival of a newborn, the band didn’t appear to be hindered by the absence at all. The contrasting styles of the guitarists were layered well and their moody, sweeping anthems won the crowd’s attention deservedly. Drummer Corey Friedlander’s energy was palpable and visually he was the glue that provided the band with the connectivity the band so obviously had. With a polished sound reminiscent of The Deftones, City Of Souls drew the crowd in and kept them captivated until the set’s close.
With the venue filling close to capacity Devilskin made a pronounced arrival opening with the powerful We Rise. Following up with two tracks from their first album they worked the crowd masterfully into an appreciative frenzy. Six gigs into their tour Devilskin portrayed polished professionalism and an assured confidence that the band clearly have at their disposal.
With two albums of material to draw from, the band had the luxury of delivering a stream of high energy favourites from the outset. In Black was the first track from the new album and was received well. The anthemic Believe In Me followed and continued the theme of new material. Vocalist Jennie Skulander’s vocal performance was emotive and powerful in equal measure as the band confidently blazed through a hearty version of Mountains. Guitarist Nail Vincent’s combination of Marshall amps and Gibson guitars continues to provide with band with a signature sound that means business. Bassist Paul Martin’s deft ability to hold the rhythm section together while captivating the audience’s attention also continues to be a feature of the band.
The hits continued with the band’s new single Voices received with rapturous applause and crowd participation. Be Like The River, while it didn’t make it to the album was another crowd favourite surely destined for inclusion on the band’s next album. Drummer Nic Martin’s playing was fluid throughout the evening, locking the songs together with complete security and confidence.
Holding the Christmas spirit close to their heart, Skulander led the crowd through a light hearted chorus of Jingle Bells before starting the crowd particpation chant that begins Dirt.
In addition to performing as a tight unit, the band’s enjoyment of performing together was evident and great to see from a group that has been so busy. Closing the evening with Little Pills was fitting as this was the song that band first wrote together and started the journey that we now know as Devilskin.