Royal Blood at the Motorpoint Arena
Brighton duo, Royal Blood, made a spectacular return to Nottingham on Saturday evening, electrifying the audience with well executed light shows, elegant performances and of course plenty of hefty bass.
The first support act was Black Honey, a four-piece band also from Brighton fronted by Lana Del Ray-esque Izzy Baxter. Their set was quite low in energy, the indie band all doing their jobs well but nothing really to stand out. Some very interesting sounds were made with guitar and vocal effects; however, the sound quality was strangely poor, a problem which affected the following band also. ‘Dig’, their latest single, received a good reception but the highlight of their performance was the apache-style riff which fit well with their americano vibe and had the most energy from the crowd.
Following on from Honey Blood, At the Drive In completely changed the atmosphere instantaneously. Walking on to cheers from the crowd and the band building the intro for their first song, ‘Arcarsenal’, the singer, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, faced away from the audience shaking maracas into a microphone until exploding and throwing away the maracas to become a fantastic stage presence that I don’t think I will ever forget. The way that man could move a microphone was unbelievable. Despite this tour being for their first album in seventeen years there were no dust on these gentlemen – they were born to play music. Their set didn’t slow down once and was exactly what was needed before the main event. A very special mention goes out to Keeley Davis, a guitarist and back-up singer who impressed all of us very much with his powerful, screeching vocals. Although, to follow up from earlier, the audio was very reverb-heavy, and this did affect the reception of the music.
Royal Blood came on bang on schedule, no messing around, straight into their first song, ‘Lights Out’, which was the first single released from their new album, ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’. By this time the relatively small arena had packed out and was full of people who had no qualms about getting physical on the floor, everybody there was there to enjoy themselves and when you get a positive crowd that are up for it like that then you can tell you’re in for a good show. Both of their albums are relatively short (around half an hour each) so the lads made up for this by putting on a hell of a show and not being afraid to drag parts out for longer for more heavy-hitting riffs or three-minute drum solos. Mike Kerr even called his Mum on FaceTime to get the crowd to sing her happy birthday which they were more than happy to perform for her. For the encore they came back out to play ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ and round up the show with the outstanding live performance of ‘Out of the Black’ which has really taken on a life of its own after being relentlessly performed around the world.
I first saw Royal Blood two years ago supporting Foo Fighters in Scotland and it was fantastic to see Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher now running their own show, completely owning the stage whether it be down to the design and display of the lasers and elevated platforms, back-up singers providing a touch of class, or a giant gong with a mallet that has been set on fire.
Credit Gaz Mather for both images.