Resident reviewer, James Beeson strolled down Gandy Street to feed his ears, and his… mouth?
Nothing says rock and roll quite like handing out fresh fruit and sandwiches to drunken punters after a show, and that is exactly what Sussex duo Royal Blood did following on from a barnstorming performance at Exeter Cavern on Saturday night.
Catering service aside, Royal Blood brand of modern garage rock is all the more impressive when one realizes the sound being produced is coming from just two blokes, a guitar and a drum kit. Following in the footsteps of the likes of The Black Keys and The White Stripes, and alongside fellow double act Drenge, the band is composed of just two members; Mike Keer on bass and Ben Thatcher on drums. Nevertheless, the sheer volume and intricacy of sound the two-piece are able to produce is nothing short of phenomenal.
The band’s sound is equally impressive given Keer and Thatcher reportedly only decided to start making music in early 2013 when Keer returned from a trip to Australia. However they have already gained notable critical acclaim, having been named on the BBC sound of 2014 and signed up to support the Arctic Monkeys at their Finsbury Park shows in May. Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders is clearly a fan, having been seen sporting a T-Shirt for the band during their headline shot at Glastonbury last year. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the gig is packed with a mixture of old-school rockers and edgy adolescents, eager to see what all the fuss is about.
I’m pleased to say that Royal Blood don’t disappoint. Launching into their set at a ferocious pace they transform the occupants of the tiny venue into an uncontrollable frenzy. The opening rift of the band’s second number ‘Come On Over’ is earsplitting loud yet beautifully crafted. Keer is a magician on the bass, producing a level and style of sound many bands with multiple guitarists can only dream of. The vocals are dark and menacing, full of venom but with enough clarity so as to be discernable amongst the barrage of sound coming from Thatcher, who thrashes away on the drums as if his life depends on it.
The highlight of the set is undoubtedly new single ‘Little Monster.’ Dropped around midway through the short show, the song’s major rift is about as close to a replication of Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘No One Knows’ as one is likely to get this side of the Atlantic. Keer is also more than adept at playing the role of Josh Homme, delivering the opening line ‘My little monster, I’ve got my eye on you’ at little more than a whisper, yet still managing to resonate throughout the darkness of the venue.
The band end the performance with debut single ‘Out of the Black,’ a four minute whirlwind that somehow manages to sound like Led Zeppelin, Them Crooked Vultures and QOTSA all at once. Big praise, but Royal Blood are a band with a big sound, who will go on to achieve big things.
Oh… and as for the sandwiches, they were equally excellent.