ROYAL BLOOD: LIVE at LANEWAY Sydney 2015
(Album: ROYAL BLOOD August 22, 2014)
If hard, garage, blues, grunge quality rock is your drug of choice, then you needed to have made way to the Milestone Stage at 6.10pm for Royal Blood’s killer set. I know I did.
These two young lads hailing from England (Mike Kerr –vocals, bass guitar and Ben Thatcher – drums) played true, fierce, hard and fast. Just the way I like it.
Their set list basically consisted of material from their self-titled debut album - each track better than the next, in my humble opinion. The large crowd was already adrenalin hyped even before they started belting out the opener, spirited Come On Over.
I just love what this band is doing. They’re distinguishable by an enormous yet melodic solid sound, without all the yelling. A great deal of damn passion. Although their lyrics are not terribly thought provoking or life altering in any way, they are proper rock anthems, a lot of heart and a lot of soul all the way through. The sort you can really sing along to at home on repeat, loud and proud. I sure do.
Some of their tracks emerged at a marginally slower-paced movement of rhythm, shifting gears nicely in preparation for fiery finales – as in Loose Change and the tremendous Figure It Out. Well it didn’t take me long at all to figure out that I was not the only fan in the audience who knew all the words. It seemed everyone was singing in time with such a leader that is, Mike Kerr. The energy both on stage and off was explosive.
As soon as Kerr had walked on stage, I sensed a definite swagger and bravado. The man knows his way round a guitar and vocally delivered faultlessly. His eye contact with the audience was intense, with whom he built a rapport immediately, through which he endeared himself. His level of confidence was demonstrative from the very start, but when he jumped on top of the stage’s speaker box in the middle of a track, guitar in hand, he really got my attention. Having not missed a single beat any which way, and holding that intent gaze at his adoring audience throughout, earned him the title of a young little rock god. So too can Ben Thatcher hold his own. When not upstanding motioning to the crowd to trigger even more noise, he was pounding that drum kit like nobody’s business. He sure got my attention.
We were all treated to the massive sound and gutsy delivery of this (essentially) two-man band onslaught. In the eyes of so many, a rock band should be limited with but two members – but Royal Blood proved limitless – realising more than perhaps might have ever been expected of such a minimalist configuration. And much like all the greatest music dotting the hard rock landscape, an instance of vulnerability and tranquility can quite simply catapult a ‘rock band’ to an even higher peak. So it was no coincidence that the atmospheric Ten Tonne Skeleton and Careless and the skillful musical arrangement in You Can Be So Cruel truly and intensely locked my focus during the performance. Though I was hungry for all the songs performed and did devour them with rock chick gusto. Most of which gained instant attention and created real momentum via the super punchy in your face riffs, Out Of The Black comes to mind, where I detected a hint of a Matthew Bellamy – esque echo. So ‘Muse’ should be flattered, after all imitation is the best form of flattery. Although, I don’t believe Royal Blood were imitating. I think it’s called real talent.
Kerr and Thatcher complemented each other during their performance with such a resounding execution arriving at a very desirable sound and effect, and making it appear effortless. Real rock sans any games or gimmicks. Lively tracks en masse have solidified a definite Royal Blood presence in both the rock and independent demographic. An uncomplicated band, but at the same time so terribly powerful, productive and potent. These are the three prerequisites for proper rock, in my book. It’s more than evident that they’ve procured the main fundamental ingredients necessary for such a long-established genre and proven much in the process. If you closed your eyes at the edge of the Laneway stage, you could easily have mistaken Royal Blood for a band with both twice the members and experience.
On a personal note, and as a fan too AND in the festival spirit, I’d like to thank you Mr Matt Helders (drummer of Arctic Monkeys) for wearing the Royal Blood top whilst playing headlining slot at Glastonbury. Wished I’d been up on stage right alongside you wearing mine as well, maybe next time.
For now, I’ll celebrate having supported Royal Blood at Sydney’s Laneway.
Mary ‘Mazza’ Di Matteo
Editor In Chief