My Monday started at 6.30am. In a groggy naive fog I was expecting a mild turn out at Resident Records at this time. I was wrong. Stricken with a mild morning panic there was much doubt if I’d even get a ticket for the show. I walked past the shop, past some eager rough sleepers, round the corner and found myself thinking “..shit” on the parallel street. However a very thoughtful move from promoters One Inch Badge, ensured they came round the queue awarding people with wristbands to confirm that we had indeed secured a ticket.
Cut forward to this evening and I arrive to a chock-a-block Concorde 2. It’s weird to think that I’d passed all these people earlier in the morning. Everyone is clearly very excited, a man approaches me in a urinal to tell me that “I’ve just spoken to their mums!”
Things become more compressed during the half hour changeover period after the support set from Thelma. I’m in a comfortably secure slot for now. A drum skin with the Brighton Seagulls emblem on it sets the crowd off and there’s mixes of drunken football chants demanding the band.
They come on saying nothing and the room erupts. One song in and I’m back to my high school metal-head days as the room turns into a frenzy. I’ve not succumbed to moshing for about 7 years, now it’s necessary for self-defence purposes. They launch into their new single ‘Lights out’. They sound huge and menacing, they’re much heavier live than you would think, comparing the show to a metal concert isn’t a huge stretch. Drummer Ben Thatcher drums incredibly well, it’s hard and tight and loud… very loud! However, he has composure, as though he’s just flexing sitting at a desk.
My centre of gravity doesn’t let me down and I recompose. There are long pauses between songs. It’s clear it’s just the band setting up but in the dark the insecurity hits and the crowd start to doubt if things have gone wrong, or if we’ve been left behind. Out of the dark they play ‘Figure it out’ and its breathtaking. It’s three songs in at this point and it becomes obvious that things are going to stay at this level for the entirety of the set. Mike Kerr’s bass sounds like a weapon, it’s rigged through several guitar amps and sounds on another level to their recorded work. Then there’s Ben Thatcher’s drumming which sounds massive, I’ve never heard a live drum sound like it, it sounds huge and clean. There’s none of the muffle or tininess that comes with live drums, sometimes. They both sound huge.
Between songs Kerr takes breaks to revel in the moment, thanking fans for the early start that morning. There’s an incredible level of pouting going on. It’s clear they like to tease their audience, Kerr play licks of songs on bass getting the crowd pumped and after 40 seconds plunges into another song. New and unheard songs don’t miss a beat. They play ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ and ‘She’s Creeping’, given the reaction it’d be hard to tell these were new songs and there’s no stopping the crowd.
‘Little Monster’ is a highlight. The live version could easily be ten minutes with Ben Thatcher ripping into a drum solo at the bridge of the song. At this point Kerr runs off for a quick change of clothes and comes back bringing the song to a final chorus. They spend several minutes teasing the intro to ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ before tearing into it. At this point there’s a full blown circle-mosh pit in the venue just waiting for things to kick off.
Battered teenagers are spilling out everywhere at this point. It’s been a rough one for everyone in the room. The band are excited and they seem humbled by this much adoration from the city they grew up in. They’ve been on quite a journey since the release of their self-titled debut, supporting the Arctic Monkeys and playing all over the US. A little hometown celebration is probably needed.
They end on ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ and things once again go completely mental. At this point nobody is aware that this is the last song but they’ve treated every song from the start as though it’s the end. These fans are incredibly devoted and very proud of their champions and their seaside city. Revelling in an extended outro while they play around onstage they slip off. The audience feels jilted, unaware this was the end and the stubborn room waits hoping for an encore that doesn’t come.
For a band as momentous as Royal Blood it’s good to have these moments. They have become undeniably massive over the past couple of years and it’ll only take another album to propel them even further. Tonight had been an incredibly special occasion for fans and the band themselves, for the lucky ones who got tickets it’ll be a moment they’ll cherish, seeing their hometown heroes come back to play an intimate show just for them.