Royal Blood were one of undisputed bands of 2014. The two-piece managed to reinvigorate the relatively stale rock genre and give it a breath of fresh air. It was no surprise that their gig in the Arena had been sold out for a long time, with fans offering as much as 100 Euros for tickets on the Internet.
While the pair are known for their genial manners and relatively calm demeanor off-stage, on-stage is something very different. The duo create an energy and atmosphere that bands with more members could only dream of. The Arena was full as expected, but there was a surprising amount of space for a sold-out gig as many chose to head for the high ground and few from the balcony or from the stairs. If they were afraid of getting caught up in a mosh then their fears were unwarranted as it turned out to be a relatively well-behaved crowd.
Mini Mansions put on a solid display in support, with …… being one of Royal Blood’s favourite tracks at the moment, but it was Mike and Ben who the crowd were waiting for. The band came out on stage to Pharoahe Monch’s Simon Says, a track from ’99 which hits all the right buttons when the lights go out and the smoke drifts over the stage like a murky autumn morning on the British moors. Within a few seconds the pair were ready at their stations and the bass kicked in like a rabid dog trying to get at your innards and tear you apart from the inside out. Fucking amazing was the expression painted on most people’s dumfounded faces throughout the next 50 minutes.
The set was brief with no encore, but we didn’t expect anything else. The band only have one album and no demos, so they don’t have much material to go on. They survived earlier gigs before the fame machine kicked in by playing the same songs 4 or 5 times, thankfully there was no overkill this time. The performance was solid, efficient, well-thought and effective, very much like the pair themselves.
The only thing that left a slight sour taste in the back of the mouth was the thought that they could have let themselves go a little more and perhaps done a little bit more to get the crowd into the gig. The interaction between Mike and crowd was sparse at best, and it always felt as if there was some invisible barrier preventing the band from getting close to the crowd and vice versa. This barrier was finally broken when Ben partially jumped into the crowd, only to be hurriedly ushered back onto the stage to finish the last song.
Royal Blood are band with massive potential, they have released a debut album which has managed to transgress genres and musical pigeon holes. Lets hope they continue in this vain in the future and don’t get caught up in their own egos and so many bands in similar situations have done before them.