I last saw Royal Blood on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury. They were a stand-out highlight of the festival, putting on one of the most exciting sets of the weekend… In the past two months, their success has skyrocketed massively; with a possible number one album with this week’s debut release, I’m sure if they were to return to Glasto now, they’d be taking their place on the infamous Pyramid.
I was thus pretty over-excited to be seeing them once more, this time at the New Slang night at McClusky’s in Kingston. Although not an ideal venue for this kind of gig, with its low ceilings and big pillars blocking views of the stage, I was confident I was in for another impressive set.
As I make my way along the riverside towards the venue entrance, Ben Thatcher (Royal Blood’s drummer) is casually strolling towards me, phone in hand; the urge to heap praise upon him is strong, but I manage to restrain myself. This is the only time I see him all night…
Upon entering McClusky’s, I am greeted by Tigercub: a Neu Wave trio, also from Brighton. As they blast out their thrashing, grunge-infused cacophony of sound, I can’t help but make comparisons to everyone’s current favourites – The Wytches – and, dare I say it… Drenge. A titillating, energy-rich start to the night.
Royal Blood get the set off to a stupendous start with the pummelling ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ and, even as Thatcher hits the first beat, the room heaves amongst a frenzy of mass moshing and head-banging. Infact, I start to worry about the woman in front of me – her head looks as though it may propel off at any given second, she’s nodding away so vigorously… Luckily all her limbs remain intact for the duration of the night. And she’s not the only one enjoying herself; it would seem that Royal Blood are able to attract fans of all ages, each and every one of them oozing excitement at the arrival of this new band who are bringing real rock back. Every single person crammed into this unlikely venue would appear to be completely engrossed in this utterly thrilling show. And, even when things start to “get a bit heavy” in the crowd (as a friend who ventured into the mosh reported), Kerr’s concern for his fans is endearing – “Hope you’re all keeping sweet and safe”.
Despite not quite joining the frenzy myself, and my view consisting merely of the backs of people’s banging heads, the energy and excitement that Royal Blood create with their colossal rock ‘n’ roll is more than enough: the magnificent wall of sound exuding from the stage makes up for any lack of visual stimuli. As anthems such as ‘Come On Over’, ‘Figure It Out’ and ‘Out Of The Black’ – which sees a cameo from Josh ‘Marmozets’ on drums (not seen by me, but he was there, apparently) – explode from this charismatic duo, there isn’t a dull moment. With Thatcher pounding away at his kit like there’s no tomorrow and Mike Kerr delivering heavy riffs (the likes of which may never have been created by a bass before) and intensely raw vocals, each song is a climactic blast of energy, creeping towards the borders of metal with intense momentum. As each fury-filled song blasts from the stage, the excitement just keeps growing.
After exactly half an hour, the music comes to an abrupt halt: an event that is met with incessant chants of ‘Royal Blood, Royal Blood’ from the crowd. Thankfully, Kerr and Thatcher return to the stage for a welcome encore of ‘Hole’; however, this would appear to be it as the duo swiftly express their thanks and disappear. This mere 35 minutes is possibly the shortest headline set I’ve ever come across, the length of which is my only disappointment of the night.
So, believe the hype. Royal Blood are indeed something special, and their imminent number one album well deserved. I’m just glad I got to see them before they start selling out arenas…