Photo: David Wala Photography
Royal Blood had a raucous crowd eating out of the palm of their (blood) hands as they stopped off at Newcastle’s O2 Academy, as part of their short run of intimate UK dates prior to the release of their highly anticipated second album.
Fellow Brighton band Black Honey also played a reasonably well received support slot.
The run of shows is their first since 2015, but there were are no signs of rustiness as they thundered through an emphatic set with the same ferocity that have made them one of the country’s most promising up and coming bands. The set was a mash-up of their first album hits, and songs from their upcoming album “How Did We Get So Dark”, including some unreleased tracks.
Their monstorous sound remained unshaken as it filled the venue and enlivened the audience, maintaining thier heavy but somehow simultaniously bare stage presance. The stage remains stripped back but impactful, with a backdrop of lit up cylindrical pole’s, teamed with a wall of lasers to enclose them on stage.
The show began on a sombre note, with the band paying tribute to Soundgarden and Audioslave singer Chris Cornell, who tragically committed suicide earlier that day. One of his songs was played in full over the PA prior to the band coming on stage to a warm-hearted applause.
They kicked off the set with a brace of songs from their upcoming album, opening with “Where are You Now?”, which was previously unveiled last year as part of the track list for Sky 1’s “Vinyl”. Initially, it received a slightly tepid reception, and seemed to only be recognised by pockets of the crowd, although it certainly picked up heat as it progressed. The album’s lead single “Lights Out” then set the room alight with energy, already proving to be a favourite amongst fans despite having been released for just under a month. The momentum carried forward as they broke into well established fan favourite “Come On Over” from their 2014 debut album, to get Newcastle well and truly rocking.
“She’s Creeping” from the forthcoming album was then debuted, the first of multiple across the night, including “Hole in Your Heart” which uncharacteristically featured Mike playing a keyboard between his classically vicious bass riffs. If the songs played shown anything, it was that the pair certainly aren’t planning on resting their laurels and looking to ride off the success of their first album. Although maintaining the same ferocity of their existing material, the new songs certainly had a different feel to them.
New single “Hook Line and Sinker” which was initially debuted at their main stage Leeds and Reading slots, was also played during the set, to a typically lively reception.
Although moving onto bigger venues in November, Mike was still appreciative to be playing in front of the lively sold out crowd. He took time during the set to say it was great to see so many people coming out to see them, and to see the reception their songs are getting. The receptions they are getting truly are worth noting as well. Someone in the crowd even sat cross-legged in the middle of a mosh pit before a chorus kicked in, as if he was sacrificing his body to the Gods of rock.
Many of the well-established hits from the fist album still appeared across the set, including “Little Monster”, noteworthy mostly for Ben Thatcher beating the living daylight out of his drum set in a jaw dropping drum solo towards the end of the song. It truly shown off the skills, stamina and energy he possesses as a drummer, beating his drums with a marriage of ferocity and accuracy which is usually only present in the knockout punch of a professional boxer.
Album finisher “Better Stranger” and hit “Figure it Out” also featured, the latter highlighted by a mass sing along to bass solo prior to the climax of the song.
The set concluded with the trio of “Loose Change”, “Ten Tonne Skeleton” and “Out Of The Black”, each receiving riotous receptions, with the lyrics being barked back to Ben and Mike on stage. Out Of The Black proved to be one of the highlights of the night, and was preceded by a mini bass solo intro, in which Mike whipped up an already energetic crowd into a frenzy. Royal Blood chants broke out between cheers as he moved from side to side of the stage gesturing for the crowd to make some noise. They then broke into Out Of The Black, with an extended outro and solo, prior to which Ben teased jumping into the crowd, as he has done many times before, but remained firmly on stage, perhaps as a result of considering that his crowd surfing antics in Newcastle in 2014 resulted in him losing a shoe in the process.
This show was potentially one of the last times we may get to see Royal Blood in the small dark venues we’ve become accustomed to seeing them rocking over the last couple of years, with the announcement of a mammoth 11 date UK arena tour coming in November. Although many have voiced concerns that their act may not transfer to the big stage, this night provided evidence that it’s time to make the leap.
Picture credit: David Wala Photography