Following the smash release of their dself-titleditled record in 2014, Brighton rockers Royal Blood have become a cyclone of success. Selling out venues across the globe and taking the stage with the likes of Foo Fighters and Iggy Pop, the rock duo have become a leading name in the UK rock roster. We were lucky enough to catch the lads at the First Direct Arena Leeds on their current headline tour along with Black Honey and At The Drive- In, here’s what went down.
Fellow Brighton indie rockers Black Honey were a real surprise to be honest. For a young four piece to open an arena without having released a full studio album yet was staggering. Their musical delivery was spot on. Loud, clear and full of balls, with singer Lizzy B Phillips leading the charge from centre stage. There was genuine promise in Black Honey’s performance, and the group’s short opening set list left a lot to be desired in terms of finding more of their music to indulge on. We’ve had new single ‘Dig’ on repeat since show day and cannot wait to hear more from Black Honey. It goes without saying, support UK rock music.
Following Black Honey was US punk royalty At The Drive-In, AKA the most talked about band on the bill before show day. Everyone we know was tearing their hair out about seeing At The Drive-In play live so naturally they had a lot of hype to live up to. From the initial surge of feedback during the walk on to the initial blast of take off, At The Drive-In’s energy was definitely at full whack from the get go. However, (and this is possibly the first time we’ve ever uttered such nonsense), we think the dial could’ve done with being turned down just a little. Instrumentally they were as tight as a drum, however the vocal performance from Cedric Bixler was a little on the inaudible side. However we’ll admit for one there are conditions to this. Taking into account we were way up in the stands rather than having out feet on the ground in the pit, perhaps had we being standing the experience would’ve been a little different. On the other hand however, the Leeds crowd was abysmal for a band with such a passion for crafting power like At The Drive-In. It’s always a shame to see the solid turn out to be for the headliner alone. We strongly believe that support acts deserve just as much love too. That being said, shout out to the chap on our row who lost his shit during ‘One Armed Scissor’.
Main event time and never had a two-piece made an arena stage look so small. Royal Blood’s setlist was simply brimming with hits: ‘Lights Out’, ‘Come On Over’, ‘Little Monster’ you name it, they played it. What we couldn’t get our heads around was just how doomy the live Royal Blood sound is. Using the term as lightly as possible, these guys are considered to be a ‘mainstream’ radio rock band, yet they deliver demonically sludgy bass and chest pounding drums throughout, they sounded absolutely colossal and the fury didn’t let up. The setlist was a perfect amalgamation of both the first record and this year’s follow-up How Did We Get So Dark and everything about it was on point.
Pacing was beautifully executed with slower numbers like ‘Sleep’ being complementing by the racing breakdowns of ‘Figure It Out’ and ‘Loose Change’. In addition to this the performances from both singer and bassist Mike Kerr and drum beast Ben Thatcher were second to none. With Mike’s vocals sounding like they were syphoned straight from the record, and Ben’s phenomenal drum solo’s and gong bashing, Royal Blood simply ooze talent and professionalism, all the while remaining extremely humble and grateful to have come so far so quickly. If Royal Blood are to lead the charge in bringing rock music back to the charts then we’re all for it, these guys love what they do and they do it oh so very well indeed. We’re itching to see them again already to say the least.