The Brighton-based rock duo, Mike Kerr (vocals + bass) and Ben Thatcher (drums) ended two years of nearly non-stop touring in spectacular style at Austin City Limits festival on Sunday. Formed in 2013, Royal Blood’s rise from playing in low-lit pubs and bars; to the main stage at Reading Festival this summer has been an extraordinary feat, and a success story to the envy of any aspiring musician. Kerr even remarked mid-set, “There is not a single person here who understands how ridiculous it is for us to be up here. There are a lot of people. I’m gonna Sh*t myself”. As a Brightonian myself, it has been equally amusing and surreal to watch them grow, and to stumble across the modest pair over a drunken midnight curry in town.
Their first single “Out of the Black”, which came with the B-side called “Come On Over” had no problem captivating the crowd, with the astonishingly heavy bass-riffs and Thatcher’s accelerated and furious drumming, it created an intensity unparalleled by other two-piece bands. When watching them support the Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park, I can recall one audience member ask: “Where’s the rest of the band?”. However, with almost 300 performances throughout the tour, I have neither the time or the words to review each one, so please enjoy my top picks from their two year tour.
Reading, August 2015 (see highlights here)
After tearing apart the NME tent in 2014, the duo received a well deserved upgrade to Main Stage at this year’s Reading Festival. The pair gave the performance of their lives; in a more than obvious bid for next year’s headline slot, even alluring the audience with new material and a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”.
Sydney Harbour, February 2015
Whilst entertaining an audience a size evocative of their early days, Kerr and Thatcher did not hold anything back, playing their debut album almost from start to finish, the stunning Sydney skyline set the scene impeccably. Just like the harbour, Royal Blood created waves of their own in the form of tantalising riffs and booming drum solos from Thatcher throughout “Little Monster” to the delight of the few lucky fans.
Brighton Dome, December 2014
It is somewhat fitting that the duo’s final performance of 2014 brought them full circle back to Brighton; onto the same stage where ABBA proclaimed victory at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. With only two members and about 40 minutes worth of material, you’d be forgiven for thinking such a show could never take place. Nonetheless, Kerr and Thatcher transformed their limitations into the emotional homecoming performance every Brightonian had been waiting for.
Nonetheless, Royal Blood have turned their attention to a follow-up to their debut album, even turning their tour bus into a ‘writing den’ for album two. The pair have also showcased a likely track from the new album at Reading Festival, “Hook Line and Sinker”, with an opening psychedelic riff reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, it would not be a surprise if Jimmy Page was credited upon the final release.