Duos in the rock/alternative world can be troublesome in live performance. There’s always a concern for the discrepancy between recorded and live music, especially when they don’t have the sonic freedom of a recording studio to manipulate and layer sound beyond what two members can create at the same time. Hailing from the UK, Royal Blood put these fears to rest and fully surpassed my expectations, bringing their bombastic, almost poppy brand of rock ‘n’ roll to Saint Andrew’s this past Friday.
Royal Blood is comprised of Mike Kerr on bass guitar and vocals and Ben Thatcher on drums, and as a relatively young band (formed in 2013), they wield their respective instruments masterfully. The sold out crowd responded positively to every rollicking song in their set, each track strung along by the band’s signature dynamic bass lines and Kerr’s crooning voice.
The band lit the crowd on fire by opening their set with the fast-paced, almost retro rock single “Where Are You Now?” from the soundtrack for the HBO original TV show “Vinyl.” Moving quickly into the first single “Lights Out” from their forthcoming sophomore record How Did We Get So Dark?, the band secured their place in the spotlight on stage with the anthemic jam, highlighting Kerr’s command over his bass guitar and Thatcher’s sense of beat. Kerr absolutely shines by showcasing his ability to quickly shift from shrill notes to deeper tones. He completely replaces the need for a separate guitarist, if not improving on the band’s music altogether in the composition of their instrumentals.
The band saved very little time for small talk, reserving it to thank the crowd for their support. Midway through their 12-song set, Royal Blood brought out popular hit “Little Monster” and second single “Hook, Line & Sinker” from their upcomig record to keep the crowd moving. The band brings just the right amount of energy and their setlist followed suit, never too explosive but not stagnant to the point of boredom.
They’re an intoxicating presence on stage — almost hypnotic in their element. Relying mostly on their own showmanship, the stage visuals were minimalist. In a modern era whose rock scene is dominated by massive metal outfits and old, revered rock bands on flashy stages, Royal Blood has found a perfect niche with their modern rock sound, attracting young adults and older fans alike — there’s a reason the show sold out, after all.
If their live show is any indication, Royal Blood is proving to be more than a one-hit-wonder coming off their 2013 debut. Using the familiarity of rock ‘n’ roll to their advantage, the band is reviving the genre’s roots with their bass-laden tracks that keep fans engaged and ready to rumble. In a genre riddled with hyperbolic spectacle, the band embodies the less-is-more ethos. With their next record on the horizon, Royal Blood is definitely a modern band to keep an eye on in the near future.