This review was originally written in 2017 for my Masters degree in Journalism.
The lights go out and the steady heartbeat of a distorted bass guitar signals the entrance of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher.
The Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham. Saturday the 25thof November. Royal Blood.
Ben, the man behind the drum kit, pads to his position on stage, Mike swaggers out, swaying his bass side-to-side to the rhythm of Lights Out. The first single of their second album, “How Did We Get So Dark?”, is their opener.
Thatcher’s kit is pulled to the front of the stage on the right-hand side. It’s rare that you’ll get such a good view of the drummer in action but he’s half the band, it makes sense.
Kerr takes his place in front of the microphone and launches into the start of the track. As the stage lights up you see a band in their prime. Their presence is truly commendable for a duo.
At times it was difficult to remember to take mental notes to review them. If their stage presence isn’t quite enough to keep you entranced, the lighting, designed by Sam O’Riordan, certainly will.
As the opening track reaches its crescendo, red lasers burst from the stage to form a neon prison keeping the pair of them contained. Beautiful design. The foot-stomping Muse-meets-Queens of the Stone Age-esque bass solo of “Lights Out” is met with a roar from the crowd as the laser show adds another dynamic to the performance.
They effortlessly make their way through their set-list, new songs mixed with old, before pausing to talk to their audience.
“I’d just like to say thank you very much for buying a ticket. “This might be it, who knows, maybe our next album’s going to be f*cking awful and then we’ll say, ‘remember when we did that’ and it’s fine, we’re having the time of our lives right now.”
The band never expected to get here and it shows. This draws a huge cry of appreciation from the crowd before “Little Monster”, complete with a drum solo. Rare by today’s standards.
Other highlights include Thatcher playing the final gong hit of “Sleep” with a flaming torch (because why not?) and the encore which came with a version of “Out of the Black” (by now their staple closer) containing an extended outro and a stage dive. Pretty standard for the Brighton duo.
There’s nothing to criticise here. If you like hard-rock and lasers, Royal Blood’s current tour is something you will want to see.