LIVE REVIEW: Royal Blood, Electric Ballroom, Camden, London, 31/08/2023
Photo Credit: Tom Beard
Royal Blood’s brand-new album might be called Back To The Water Below, but the boys are going back to their small venue roots for their intimate show in conjunction with Rough Trade Records at Camden’s iconic Electric Ballroom, it was like being transported back to 2014 and the sweaty confines of sticky venues that inhabited their music video for Little Monster. Whilst this Brighton based duo have gone on to headline sold out arena shows since the monochrome era of their self-titled debut album, rip roaring through a blazing set of old school Royal Blood bangers, the dazzling disco dance of third LP Typhoons and tracks with soulful swagger taken from their hotly released fourth full-length Back To The Water Below in front of 1,500 fans on the eve of the album’s release, proved that rooms like this is where Royal Blood performed at their very best.
Warming up the bones of an already rowdy crowd, DJ Jack Saunders spins bands such as Linkin Park and Turnstile but when he says “who is ready for one big rock and roll show?” You knew he meant no one else except Royal Blood and when you put a duo who have gone on to amass over four million monthly listeners on Spotify in a tiny room like the Electric Ballroom it was a recipe destined for chaos. And that hurricane of chaos erupted when Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher walked out Kerr’s arms up in the air to beckon the pure energy that made the Electric Ballroom literally electric for a fifteen songs setlist of mellow moments and pure riff age starting with opener Out Of The Black, Thatcher immediately unleashing himself, jumping into the centre barrier crowd to be with the people that matter the most to this duo.
It seems funny to think once upon a time Royal Blood had legitimate merchandise that begged the band to release Boilermaker, their then unreleased track which made it onto their later released record in 2021’s Typhoons which with its strutting baseline reared its head onto tonight’s setlist, alongside the storm brewing title track Typhoons and electro rock banger Troubles Coming. However, a majority of the singles and deep cut tracks from their new album at time of performance was due out in a matter of hours gave Royal Blood the perfect platform to show off their singles and tease with tracks set to enlighten listeners’ ears at midnight. From the cruising vintage rock of Mountains At Midnight to the sultry Pull Me Through, Mike Kerr flickered back and forth between bass and piano duties for the sombre Shiner In The Dark and ultra cool Waves, Kerr proving he ain’t just a one trick bass and vocal pony.
You’ve never heard a crowd sing riffs like you have at a Royal Blood show and tonight was no exception. Whether it be Little Monster coming complete with an always impressive drum solo from Thatcher through to the mosh pit starting Loose Change, if Royal Blood’s crowds aren’t losing their collective minds to belting out the bands lyrics about live on my fingers and lust on my tongue or a 24-carat thug in a velvet glove, you’d find they were giving Kerr’s bass riffs a run for their money.
If there is one thing that sets Royal Blood apart from their contemporaries in the form of duo-based bands, it’s their flair for free running with elongated and improvised instrumentals duals with each other. Except these are duals that bounce off each other in all big alt rock glory. Set closer Figure It Out showcases Kerr and Thatcher’s synchronicity the best, the duo bouncing off each other in a blaze of dingy riffs and booming drum that result in the band holding their respective instruments aloft (for Ben this was just a triumphant drumstick) and basking in the roaring round of applause and cheers this duo deserve.
With the dark sarcastic humour that defines Kerr and Thatcher’s personalities, Kerr at one-point mid set joking “My name is Gary as you know, so we will move onto my good friend Ben Thatcher on the drums” and the talent of a duo that are just masters of their craft, Royal Blood went back to their small venue roots for an electric performance at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. And as always, they didn’t disappoint.
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood