Music Reviews — 17 October 2014
Royal Blood Marks a Sold Out Return to Garage Rock

Royal Blood

A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
The Marlin Room at Webster Hall, New York, NY
October 16, 2014

Concert Review: Royal Blood at The Marlin Room

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For our recap of the band’s May 2014 show at Mercury Lounge, click here.

One day after an appearance on Late Night with Seth Myers, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher graced a sold out crowd at New York City’s famed Webster Hall on Thursday evening. The Marlin Room was literally packed to the gills for one of rock music’s must buzzed about bands as the duo that makes up Royal Blood would take center stage for an abbreviated but energetic 45 minute headlining performance.

Currently touring the country in support of August’s self-titled debut album which reached number one in the United Kingdom (and respectably at number thirty in the US), the band made one of their final stops in the US Thursday night as they are set to embark on a worldwide jaunt that takes them through a plethora of sold out shows into the spring. Fans to their credit gobbled up any remaining tickets weeks prior to the band’s arrival in New York, a testament to the buzzworthiness of the band and their new record. Royal Blood’s twelve song set encompassed the entirety of their new album, played with the veracity that you hear on the studio recordings albeit with more aggressive mannerisms, egged on by a fiery crowd.

The rallying chorus of “Hole” led by Kerr’s infectious guitar-playing would open the show, but the song, which debuted on the group’s four song EP is conspicuously absent from their record. Nevertheless, the unabashedly grungy bass riff (you heard that right- the band has NO guitars) and pulverizing drum smashes in conjunction make for a deliciously enthralling way to open a live show. The slowly building “Come On Over” and the radio friendly “Figure It Out” would appropriately follow in short order, building the live crowd toward a frenzied crescendo.

Somehow the band has harnessed an unparalleled sound which pairs distorted bass and powerful drum beats in a way that manages to sound like a full four piece band performing on stage. Meanwhile Kerr’s raw sounding voice is one that lends itself to a unique style of garage rock that’s having a bit of a renaissance- but is only enhanced by the band’s propensity for a simplistic style of hard rock music that is easy to identify with and equally as easy to enjoy. Despite being hard, it’s somehow also easy on the ears. And the fact that the pair have basically been launched into stardom at such a meteoric pace, makes the two everyday looking musicians infinitely likable.

While Thatcher often arose from his pummeled drum kit to antagonize an audience response, Kerr rarely addressed them. Instead, he focused intently on his methodical playing, pausing only momentarily for his eyes to waver around the room before hitting the very same notes he does on the record with ease. “Little Monster” was a particularly heavy and memorable four minutes, with the bass and drum breakdown working cohesively in perhaps the band’s finest showcase of their abilities. Slower tracks like “Blood Hands” and “Loose Change” were best saved for the conclusion of the set, appropriately building to the utterly defiant “Out of the Black” to close the show. As Thatcher pounds his drums to Kerr’s matching riff, it’s like Royal Blood is daring you to stand still as the band reaches their rebellious chorus with exacting precision. And soon enough, despite just two band members on stage, you’re moving around with the rest of the crowd- heads bobbing, arms thrown overhead- being taken on a rock fueled ride by a couple of guys who have become royally entertaining.

- Dave Gendelson

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