Monday Music: Royal Blood

Review – Royal Blood – Eventim Apollo 24th October 2023

by Jeremy Hall, barrister at 42BR Barristers

I found myself at the Hammy Odeon last night having jack hammers forced through my eardrums in the shape of Royal Blood.  

I love this venue.  I’ve schlepped through the art deco valhallacountless times since my first visit when, aged 15, I saw, err… Ted Nugent, and the sheer size and heft of the place always manages to surprise me.  The foyer has been snazzed up, but the auditorium remains grungy and scarred and that’s how it should be.  Exorcise those ghosts at your peril.

Royal Blood are a heavy rock band from Worthing, and are making a decent fist of conquering the world.  Fresh from supporting Muse over the summer and a slot at Glasto, they are on a new UK tour to promote their new album ‘Back to the Water Below’.  There are only two band members, vocalist and bassist Mike Kerr, and drummer Ben Thatcher, but god they make a noise.  Kerr somehow manages to wring multiple layers of metallica from his bass guitar, and at times you could swear he was playing a standard six string electric, with searing solos wafting out from the industrial crump.  The array of footpedals around him perhaps explains the magic, but he still has to play all the notes and sing, and its mightily impressive.  

The two couldn’t look more different.  Kerr, slim, tight black clothing and co-respondent shoes, could have come straightfrom the office, whereas Thatcher, with his angular baseball cap & muscular tatts, has the air of day-release about him.  Their chemistry is great though, and it needed to be, given the minimalist staging and only the occasional bit-part additional keyboard player making an appearance on a couple of tracks.

The band came in for justified criticism over the summer following their ludicrous rant at the audience for being ‘pathetic’ during Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Dundee.  Last night there was deference both ways – the sell out crowd mosh-pitted enthusiastically and only about half of those present viewed the concert via the recording device on their phones.  Meanwhile, Kerr heaped lavish praise back on the two or three occasions he chose to address us.  

The big highlights included the absolute cruncher  ‘Come on Over’, played early in the set to get the heads banging, ‘Little Monster’ and the imperious ‘Figure It Out’ during the encore.  Not the sort of tunes you sing to yourself in the garden, but when those chords got fired out like tracer bullets the crowd were collectively in the moment, rocking right back to row Z.