Royal Blood – Riverstage
Royal Blood – Riverstage – 7 May 2018
Written by Jack Gobbe
Photos by Markus Ravik
As rock skews towards psychedelic or lo-fi, garage rock these days, there is something undoubtedly charming about Royal Blood. The British rock duo embodies the genre in every sense of the word, channelling the likes of contemporary icons Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal to prove that hard-hitting rock hasn’t quite made the departure many thought it would. With two previous Australian appearances at Laneway Festival and Splendour in the Grass in 2014 and 2017 respectively, Royal Blood’s first national headline tour was met with justified anticipation.
Opening Brisbane’s Riverstage was the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, a Perth four-piece who lived up to their abstract name with an equally as such sound. With a swift half-hour set, the group succeeded in what any support act should do, providing a superb set that leaves anyone previously unaware of them utterly intrigued. Additionally, Sydney duo Polish Club turned the atmosphere up a notch with their frolicking rock. With a distinct likeness to Royal Blood in both sound and a guitarist and drummer combination, Polish Club proved to be a brilliant support the never took themselves too seriously and even engaged in charming banter with the Brisbane crowd.
The crowd got what they came for when Royal Blood arrived just fourty minutes after Polish Club. In spite of a brief two record discography under their belts, nothing stopped bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher from launching into a tight-knit set of hits. While it’s trite to mention at this point, it’s impossible to ignore that the band’s raucous sound comes from a mere bass and drum set. Nonetheless and as expected for anyone familiar with the band, Kerr and Thatcher translated the unbridled energy of their studio albums to a live setting with ease.
The set kicked off with “Where Are You Now”, a standout from their latest LP that prepared the crowd for the chaos to come. The set list generally switched back and forth between the first and second album, exhibiting their breakout album and what they’ve built upon with their latest release. “I Only Lie When I Love You” was introduced by a looming instrumental before the particular highlight of the night brought every fan to cry out the chorus before banging their head to the ensuing rock.
While the duo obviously excels in infectious instrumentals, Kerr’s catchy hooks contribute significantly to their superb sound. The aptly titled “Hook, Line & Sinker” possesses such a trait, with a catchy lyrics building towards climatic instances of raucous rock. Although a band like Royal Blood can fall prey to a lack of variety in their set, the duo demonstrated a slick, cruisy blues edge to their sound in “Hole In Your Heart”, “Look Like You Know” and “You Can Be So Cruel”, all of which were still rampaging in their own right in spite of a slightly slower tempo.
After the wildly memorable “Figure It Out” ended the set, the duo didn’t waste time before returning to a double encore suite of “Ten Tonne Skeleton” and “Out of the Black”. The closing “Out of the Black” was Royal Blood at best, a riot wave of rock with menacing lyrics and a prolonged solo that saw Thatcher crowd surfing and Kerr resembling a one-man army on his bass. And with that, the sixteen-song setlist was over at a whirlwind pace, leaving a mesmerised audience in its wake, and proving Royal Blood’s first national headline tour to be one to remember.