Review: Royal Blood at KOKO, Camden (17th February 2015)

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Exploding on to the scene last year with an impressive blast of heavy guitar and drum beats, rock-duo Royal Blood have seemingly been the name on everybody’s lips. On a whim I checked out their Spotify last year just before Reading Festival as their spot on the NME/Radio 1 Stage acted as a perfect filler for me, and even with only two songs available for listening to, I was hooked.

7 months later and I was in the crowd at my favourite venue, KOKO in Camden, eagerly awaiting their presence on stage again. The first support act, Vant, instantly caught my attention due to the fact the lead singer was wearing a Slaves tee. My like for them rapidly increased when their sound showed they infused elements from a lot of my favourite bands: they seemed a slightly more tame, British version, of trash-punk band, FIDLAR cross with The Hives, especially when the lead singer introduced one of their songs with a passion-fuelled rant about how we need to start caring for the environment and then proceeded to sing the lines “There’s a hole in the ozone dear Eliza, dear Eliza”.

The crowd received the second support act, The Bohicas, just as warmly as the first. Each song appeared to express a different genre with a steady country vibe penetrating through all; similar to Kings of Leon’s latest albums. I was transfixed by the two guitarists’ dance moves and wide-brimmed hats and happily sung along to catchy latest single ‘XXX’.

Royal Blood entered the stage to a sold-out venue: the show was acting as a special warm-up performance to the BRIT Awards which the duo were headlining the following week, as well as a charity gig for War Child which ticket sale proceeds contributed to. The two boys, Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr, from Brighton, managed to fill the stage despite their unusually small band size. With Thatcher’s drum kit right in front of me I was taken aback by the energy and commitment he threw into every hit and crash and was equally impressed by Kerr’s voice and guitar playing, both joining together to create a noise that echoed through every part of KOKO. Speakers built like blocks of flats and endless towers of spotlights behind the pair made my heart jump violently whilst my feet were unable to stay still due to the sheer vibration of the noise.

Playing the entirety of their self-entitled debut album with virtually no pause between songs, the crowd mirrored this and never stopped ‘moshing’. Thrown away from my friends within the first song, we were physically unable to re-group until outside the venue at the end of the show as the crowd was just a huge mass of uncontrollable movement.

Highlights were ‘Come on Over’ and ‘Figure It Out’ – successful singles in their own right with constant airplay on Radio 1 and charting success. The hungry crowd especially gave themselves over to these tracks: roaring the lyrics at the top of their lungs. Clearly the energy was infectious – Thatcher climbed on top of one of the many piles of speakers during one of Kerr’s guitar solo and launched himself into an impressive crowd surf; barely speaking the whole show you could hear him however shouting to the guy who stole his hat to give it back.

Successfully back on stage, the pair began the opening bars of their closing number, ‘Out of the Black’, and by this point the crowd was well and truly eating out of the palm of their hand. Sheer adoration beamed from everyone’s faces and as the gig came to a close everybody knew these boys were going to be experiencing great things at the BRIT Awards – and they did not disappoint: they won the ‘Best British Group’, as well as managing to nab in the same week ‘Best New Band’ and ‘Best Live Band’ at the NME Awards.

The band, along with Iggy Pop, are due to support Foo Fighters on select dates during their 2015 UK & USA tours.

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