With today’s announcement of a massive tour in April/May (which may or may not coincide with Groovin’ The Moo), tonight’s relatively intimate sole headline show at the Metro for U.K. duo Royal Blood turned out to be something of a preview for their big shows ahead in the new year – playing venues five times the size. And of course Splendour in the Grass this weekend. Both tours come off the back of their new album How Did It Get So Dark?, which hit number one in the UK when it was released last month.
But first up were Concrete Surfers, a four piece of loose units from Brisbane, which I mean in the most endearing way. They feel like a band who have been born out of some late night jam sessions, given their music is pretty damn impressive, particularly from an instrumental point of view, and there were some really stand out moments throughout. The crowd enjoyed it, but they were all here for Royal Blood, and the chants for the group to hit the stage started well before they emerged.
They hit the stage at the stroke of 9pm and wasted no time, jumping straight into “Where Are You Now?” off the new album. The new material translates brilliantly live, something which the band have been developing on the road over the last couple of months. I caught them last month at the iconic 9:30 Club in Washington DC just before they released the new LP, and even then the new music slotted in with ease to the set – to the embarrassing point I walked out unsure if they’d played any new songs at all.
Impressively, it’s still just the two of them performing the tracks – though “Lights Out”, which came second, was one of a couple of tracks to include some pre-recorded backing vocals, though all instrumentation was seemingly done on stage; Mike even hitting the keys for “Hole in Your Heart”.
The set was weighed towards their debut LP, but they’ve added a few new ones into the mix since the album was released – noting some tracks have been difficult to translate (you’ll see more in my interview with the pair tomorrow). I’d expect to see them added in by the time they return next year though. It was naturally the older material that saw the crowd at their most energetic; starting early with “Come on Over” all the way to “Ten Tonne Skeleton” and “Out of the Black” at the set’s end.
Mike Kerr is a phenomenal frontman, showing off his slick guitar moves (often one handed) and holding the crowd in the palm of his hand. But drummer Ben Thatcher gets his chance to shine too, with a killer solo during “Little Monster”, a shoey before “Figure It Out”, because Australia, and then an epic drum session with Mike during the closing track of the hour-and-a-bit set, “Out of the Black”, which left the crowd chanting for more. But this isn’t a band who return for an encore.
With a strong mix, impeccable vocals and instrumentals, and phenomenal energy from both members, Royal Blood delivered a show that rocked the Metro Theatre to its core. In the three years since they first toured Australia and played the Oxford Art Factory, they’ve gone from being one of the UK’s most promising rock groups to being one of the best live acts on the planet. And with album two done and dusted, it’s a show they’ll be taking on the road for the indefinite future. Just don’t expect an encore.
Where Are You Now?
Come on Over
I Only Lie When I Love You
Hook, Line & Sinker
Hole in Your Heart
Figure It Out
Ten Tonne Skeleton
Out of the Black
Royal Blood play Splendour in the Grass this weekend, and will head back to Australia in April/May for a massive tour. You can get all the details HERE. How Did We Get So Dark? is in stores now through Warner Music Australia.
The reviewer attended the performance on 20th July 2017 at the Metro Theatre in Sydney.