Early into their North American tour, British rockers Royal Blood transformed Boston’s Roadrunner into a head-banging affair that chronicled hits from their four studio albums. The duo, composed of bassist and lead vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher, dominated the stage with their dynamic presence and tight musicianship, filling the 3,500 capacity room with songs from their latest effort, Back To The Water Below.
Joined by Bad Nerves, who are concurrently dominating rock clubs across the pond, the five-piece punk rockers kicked the night into high gear with lively and punky tracks like “Palace,” “Baby Drummer,” “USA,” and “Can’t Be Mine.” As their first ever foray into the States, the group left an indelible mark on the wide-eyed audience.
Royal Blood took the stage shrouded in shadows, brooding in their intrinsic cool-guy attitude that trademarks their aesthetic and sound. As of late last year, the duo are now accompanied by the addition of Darren Watts on keys to fill in their sound and add a new dynamic to their live show. Still, with only three musicians, they are able to achieve a full-throttled sound that suggests many more hands are at work.
Starting the set with “Little Monster” off their 2014 self-titled debut, a mirage of smoke and glowing lights cast the band in a hazy promise of rambunctiousness to come. Dirty, dragged-through-the-dirt guitar licks fortify the majority of the setlist, punctured with singable chorus and plenty of call-and-response rumblings. While initially the crowd did not thrash with the full mosh pit momentum it did with Bad Nerves, Royal Blood’s music urged vagrantspirited head bobs and hollers.
Following up with “Come on Over” and “Boilermaker,” drummer Ben Thatcher, who wore the guise of a brutish poker face, loomed over the edge of the stage and raised his arms to pantomime parting a sea through the middle of the crowd. With the power resulting form just the brush of his hand, the audience followed suit and made room for Thatcher to jump off the stage to run through his own walkway of giddy fans, before perching himself atop the barricade’s thin rail. His facade cracked not once, but twice, revealing an entertained smile that followed him back up behind his drum kit. The artist donned a black and gold Boston Red Sox hat, in theme with the color scheme of their latest album. Also paying homage to the city, his drum kit is completed with a variety of Massachusetts’ own Zildjian cymbals.
While the stage design was minimalistic at best, their use of lighting amplified each track by changing hues with each song to create an atmosphere individual to each moment. Ironically, their setlist included songs “Lights Out,” “How Did We Get So Dark?” “Shiner in the Dark,” and “Out of the Black.”
A man of few words, there were few moments for chit-chat between tracks. Taking one moment to indulged in sincerity, Kerr stated, “We just want to say one thing. And that’s thank you very much for buying a ticket and coming along tonight. It means the world. It’s so good to be back here so soon and see so many people, so thanks for thinking that this was a great idea. We really appreciate it.”
Their new album, Back To The Water Below, was released on September 1 via Warner Records. Due to its existence in the world only being a mere three weeks, these tracks were more unfamiliar with fans who were keen to sing the hits. Despite the freshness of new tracks, the band executed them in a blend of skill and persuasion, as if a tactic to win everyone over. “Mountains at Midnight” roared with the gritty rock Royal Blood are known for. In fact, it provides the perfect formula for the band’s trademark sound, on an amplified level.
Continuing on high momentum, hit “Trouble’s Coming” pulsated with a churning bass provided by Kerr, while Thatcher held down the beat and revived fans from their fatigue. The melodic “Typhoons” spurred raised arms and the audience’s strained “Oos” in time with the song’s refrain.
An enigmatic drum solo kicked off with the introductory cackle of Ozzy Osborn’s “Crazy Train,” prompting Thatcher to unleash masterfully on his kit. Such antics served to further rile up the crowd and initiate another wave of crowd surfers which prevailed steadily throughout the last half of the set.
The fuzzed-out shredding of “Loose Change” sent bodies spilling over the barriers, while “Shiner in the Dark” upped the ante and crowd favorite “Out of the Black” closed out the set with a victorious rumble. Incorporating a prolonged jam, fans moshed with reckless abandon and made up for any lethargy that lingered early into the night. Thatcher returned into the crowd, running through the mass of people as Kerr blasted bass lines from the stage. The moment felt like a WWE rally-cry, increasing anticipation for the fight to come.
Returning for a demanded encore, Will Phillipson of Bad Nerves joined the band for “Waves,” which proved as a more subdued return, yet prepped the audience for the impending rip-roar of “Ten Tonne Skeleton.” Mega-hit “Figure It Out” prompted a chorus of hand claps and cheers that instantly deafened the room and egged the band on to perform a seemingly-never-ending rendition of the beloved track. Playing with every ounce of energy left in them, Kerr and Thatcher royally dominated Roadrunner, proving there is an endless supply of rock blood left in them yet.
Royal Blood’s North American Tour dates can be found here.
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