There was no place like home for Royal Blood as they ended a hugely successful tour with a blistering show at the Brighton Centre. It is unlikely that any tour in 2017 has been able to boast a line-up like the three bands on display tonight, and they all put on masterful performances starting with fellow locals Black Honey. Similarly to Royal Blood, these last few weeks have had the air of a promotion parade for the spiky four-piece and it felt like an emotional night for them.
Fun. That is what it's supposed to be, is it not? Being in a band as a young adult. Meeting new people, going to new places, playing music because you just damn well enjoy doing that? And you know what? People can smell that. They often have a good sense of what is real, and what is not. Being able to tell the difference between what is too earnest, and what is just having a bit of a laugh. Even the most muso lunatics such as Yes or Gentle Giant were having a laugh back in the days of bombastic prog-rock. Even the most epic and earnest sounding like Radiohead, are just having a bit of a laugh amidst all the heavy sentiments and chord progressions.
So, what to make of this phenomenon? This two-headed beast of bluesy, pummelling riffage and titanic skin bashing. How did these two guys from Worthing/Rustington suddenly become one of the biggest bands in the world? From nowhere to everywhere in such a short space of time, they were struggling to get gigs in the Worthing area, before finding themselves on a bill of an unsigned band night at the very small (100 capacity) Latest Bar in Feb 2013. Four years on they are ubiquitous cover stars and will be third on the bill on the Pyramid Stage at this year’s Glastonbury (just behind Radiohead and The xx). They will also be conducting a global headlining tour, an American tour alongside their main source of inspiration, Queens of the Stone Age, as well as a huge number of festivals worldwide and forthcoming arena tour of the UK. Jimmy Page, for one, is a big fan.
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.
With recourse to stating the bleedin’ obvious, the dynamic duo have done good, haven’t they? From nowhere to everywhere in less than two years, it’s a very rare story of almost instant success and acclaim that could not have being predicted.
Every now and then something comes along to shake the foundations of a dozy, flatulent and mediocre music scene. In the most unexpected way, too. Royal Blood are one of those bands – a band whose sound is so hard and heavy, fat and groovy and rammed full of the kind of riffing that brings out the caveman (and cavewoman!) in us, that it is a bit of a surprise to learn they are English, from Sussex even. Back in the 70s you would have expected the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but in more recent times we seem to have lost the knack for hard rock, although acts such as Drenge do try, if only they had better songs. Royal Blood have yet to make an average song, let alone a bad one.
Royal Blood, eh? Where did they come from? From nowhere (well, at a tiny Brighton venue in Feb 2013, sandwiched on a bill of 5 indie-rock hopefuls), to making the BBC Sound Poll 2014, to high up the bill at Reading and elsewhere with support slots with friends Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park under their belts, a Later… with Jools Holland scene stealing performance, a worldwide tour in motion and a UK leg in November to look forward to.
With their tasteful truckers and beards look, bludgeoning riffing and Bonhamesque meets Dave Grohl drumming, the suitably monikered Royal Blood have been a breathe of fresh air, an air raid siren amidst the saturated landscape of singer songwriters and electro pop acts. There are times – and they are many – when we need to seriously rock out and let our collective hair down. Not that this is heavy metal of the old school, more of an amalgamation of grunge, Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age, and a little bit of Rage Against The Machine, White Stripes/Raconteurs and Muse. Their rise to the top has been incredibly quick, and live they have already nailed it, their very simple set up of bass and drums perhaps not the most difficult thing to synthesise when you aren’t burdened with other players. Nevertheless, the sheer power and energy of the duo’s sound has tested many a venues fabric.
I first heard of Royal Blood when they were named on the longlist for ‘BBC Sound of 2014’ last December. “Sound of…” is a poll of critics and music industry figures aimed at rooting out promising new talents and Royal Blood ended up being the only band on this years list.
Even then I wasn’t quick to jump on the bandwagon at first because I was suspicious having never heard of them, despite them being hailed as a local band (arrogantly I assumed I’d heard of all the local bands worth hearing about). I was also irked that this years only band were a 2-piece and, at a knee jerk, I was prepared to write them off for only being half a band without ever hearing them. When I finally listened I was blown away!