In this post-Viva Brother landscape which we live in, any band with even a semblance of hype is treated with a level of suspicion that can occasionally outweigh any excitement that is purported to surround them. This creates a mountainous challenge for a plethora of new acts; when at one time it was possible for a group to hone their sound and their songs in the anonymous safety of back rooms and basements, it is apparent that now if you form a band that has any potential of succeeding as a commercial entity, the mainstream of UK music journalism will tear you from your comfy chair of inconspicuousness and place you on an empty throne, hailing you as demigods (or more commonly ‘the saviours of rock n roll’). And then people get pissed at YOU when it turns out that all you are is a less prolific form of The Cribs with additional reverb (sorry Palma Violets); as if you are wholly to blame for this orchestration, and that you are, indeed, not a fully realised, conceptual artist two months after you left that squat in Dalston.
This sentiment is reflected in the crowd before Royal Blood come on stage. Many still seem undecided, waiting until after their set to pass a judgement on whether the Brighton two-piece are worthy of the monumental praise that they are receiving. Others appear to be partaking in a box-ticking exercise, staking their position in the audience solely to be the smug bastard who can say that they saw them before everyone else.
It is understandable to view this performance with a sceptical eye; after all, with only a pittance of studio material at their disposable, it was inevitable that half of their set was going to consist of songs that have barely been heard by anyone other than Mike and Ben themselves.
The band open with ‘Hole’, an as-yet-unreleased song, to the reaction of tentative head-nodding from the crowd. The mood still has a tinge of anxiety, the audience unknowing as to whether Royal Blood are going to be able to live up to their fast-forming reputation.
Then, as the band begin to perform ‘Come On Over’, everything changes. People start to draw themselves out of their shells, the crowd begins to move, the music now feels all the more powerful. We are no longer watching a hype band, we are watching a band.
As the band continue their set, the energy resonates between the audience and the band: the crowd becomes more energetic, the group play harder. Unknown songs are received with the enthusiasm close to that of their singles. The music is appreciated on a base, primal level. A song is no longer enjoyed because of its familiarity or its cultural relevance, it is relished simply because it is a cool riff.
The exuberance of the crowd reaches its crescendo for final song, ‘Out of the Black’. The audience formed a pit of a ferocious camaraderie usually expected at a Pulled Apart by Horses concert. These people are not here merely to be here, but to BE here. What could have been an overly-intellectual evaluation of the group’s credentials was instead a sharp, sweaty, snuck-in-spirit-swigging rampage.
No, Royal Blood are not going to change the world, but you and I are going to have a very good time whilst they don’t.