With a Number One debut album selling over 100,000 copies, there’s no arguing that Royal Blood slayed, dominated and conquered 2014, going from Brighton beach to late night selfies outside Mrs Doubtfire’s house with Lars Ulrich within a matter of months. Their gigs now come with more pressure than most, and in no way does tonight’s sold out show at Brixton academy even struggle to exceed expectation.
Walking on to Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Simon Says’, appreciative eyebrows crush and heads nod like intestinal villi through the slopes of the venue. Limiting themselves to a confined bass/drums palette makes the audible taste of Royal Blood all the more delectable: the nuclear smorgasbord of effects pedals, dense riffs combined with simple, crushing symbols proves even more poignant live. With Ben Thatcher standing on his drum kit eyeing up the crowd, the immediacy of the riffs from B-side ‘Hole’ are inebriating. Alongside massive cheers, Mike Kerr moves straight into the chord progression of ‘Come On Over’ and ‘You Can Be So Cruel’ along with complementary chanting from the crowd, complying religiously.
“I can’t tell you what it means to play here”, Mike explains, before the looming guitars of ‘Figure it Out’ begin. “We used to play these songs in a spare room with a washing machine in it.” Both have a self-effacing quality that makes their music even more likeable with Mike’s repetitive and if anything, quite shy asking of “are you fucking ready?”. With pieces of clothing being lobbed through the ascending mosh pit riled up by ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Careless’ , the letters ‘B-TWN’ lights up from the behind as the boys pay a not so subtle homage to their home town. For the first time in the entire set, there is a moment of silence before the violent immediacy of ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ consumes the attention of everyone in the room. The sheer intensity even breaks a speaker.
The duo conclude the night with the spectacular ‘Out Of The Black’, a song that’s so incredibly versatile it’s even been featured on a CBBC advert. With Royal Blood’s only album accumulating to a mere 32 minutes, there’s no encore - for a band that started ‘for a laugh’, they don’t need one.
Photos: Shiona Walker