Royal Blood, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
A last minute phone call from a good friend offering me a spare ticket was a pleasant surprise, not being one to turn down the chance of live music I gratefully took them up on their offer and we headed in to Cardiff. Following the obligatory burger and a pint (or two) we made our way into the Motorpoint with a few minutes to spare for the main event. The supports Black Honey and At the Drive In not really tempting any of us...
Royal Blood have always been a band that have been on my radar, the lads from Brighton's self titled first album actually being a very good listen, while their new offering moves away from the raw heavy feeling and more towards synth effects on both instruments and microphone it still offers some individual beauties. The main hurdle that has always stopped me from really getting into these guys is their insistence of masquerading as a true two piece band; when quite clearly on album and live they are not. On album it is clear to hear multiple rhythm lines and bass lines along with the vocals, the same can be said live.
To be fair a lot of this is achieved with excessive use of a loop pedal, however there are times when there was no bass line, hands were off the guitar and rhythm guitar was still clearly heard, and vice versa dependant on the guitar of choice for the song. Although it is clear as day that their defence has no substance at all, I really wish they would either come clean and carry on as they are, or just add a third member... ultimately they're doing themselves no favours constantly denying the obvious and costing themselves a lot of potential fans in doing so.
All this aside, I had a freaking great night watching this band. Both lads knew their instruments inside and out. Mike Kerr more than efficient playing the rhythm guitar on the rare occasion he whipped it out, but its clearly the bass guitar where he is at home and most comfortable. Kerr's ability to pluck and flick the life out of the strings while seamlessly sliding up and down the frets made for some of the heaviest yet smooth bass I've heard in a long time, this guy is up there with the best. Vocally Kerr did not disappoint either, not dropping a note throughout the night and sounding identical to that which is presented on the album... never an easy feat.
Much the same can be said for Ben Thatcher on drums, this guy knows how to slam the living hell out of the skins with such ease, yet still get pounding bass drums and crashing symbols perfectly in line with the sheer heaviness of their set. Halfway through he was forced to pull back a little as the reverb on the sound he was creating did not go well with the Motorpoint, at one point sounding as if there was another kit being played a few seconds behind (thanks again Motorpoint). Kerr and Thatcher very much let their music do the talking, with little chit chat the guys made their way through a eighteen song set list consisting of old and new, highlights included the head beating opener Lights Out and other fan favourites I Only Lie When I Love You, Blood Hands, Figure It Out and the anthem of Ten Tonne Skeleton for which most of the sold out arena joined in. Nothing flashy when it came to the effects, just a simple laser grid falling down onto the stage from above, giving the simple yet emotive effect of the band being locked up in a cage, the only time the band were given freedom was when Kerr ventured out into the middle of the arena via the stage extension for the slower more intimate songs.
All in all this was a great gig and I was more than pleasantly surprised at the quality of the band and the amount of fun that I had, I didn't stop moving throughout, neither did the rest of the crowd. Both members of the band at times offering their clearly humble and slightly confused thanks in-between songs, which was always greeted with great applause and support from their die hard following. The music they played was short but heavy, full of chunky break downs and most importantly of a high quality that is definitely a bridge that can be used between heavy rock and metal.
Would I catch Royal Blood again if given the opportunity? Hell yes I would and I'd recommend them to anyone. I just hope by the next time they come around they've come clean regarding their overlays and backing sounds and have gone either to a three piece or the way of The Graveltones; make as much noise as you can with only two instruments. If they do these lads will carry on climbing, and quite frankly they deserve everything they get 9/10
Note: There was a drum solo during this gig but I haven't removed the extra point as the lads only have two albums so were unlikely to waste the time which could be filled with another song. Also said drum solo included vast amounts of cow bell and gong...which in my eyes saved them.