Gig review: Royal Blood at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Royal Blood at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
Royal Blood at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
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3D lighting and elaborate stage set-ups are often entertaining distractions away from a live act’s lack of charisma. While Royal Blood did utilise these features, they needn’t have worried about winning their crowd over. The sheer fury that came from this bass and drum duo had a nearly sold-out Leeds Arena in hysteria from start to finish.

At the Drive In (back from yet another sabbatical) and Black Honey did their bit to warm up the Friday night crowd, but it was obvious who the punters were here to see.

Royal Blood at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Royal Blood at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Although the applause was never quite loud enough to match the noise coming from the stage, even frontman Mike Kerr was a little overwhelmed by the response they received, often having to stop and peer out into the crowd to make sure they were definitely cheering for him.

Still riding high on the back of their No.1 sophomore album, How Did We Get So Dark, Royal Blood opened with two favourites from the new release, Lights Out and Where Are You Now?

Kerr’s power-chord, over-driven riffs and solos were all played on short-scale bass guitars, accompanied by copious amounts of distortion – does the bass make for even more thunderous fury, or are six strings just too many for him to manage? Either way, a sterling drum solo from Ben Thatcher was one of the mellower moments of the show, which just about says it all.

A pair of rather redundant backing singers emerged from the shadows at the back of the stage from time to time, but added little against Royal Blood’s barrage of noise.

Royal Blood at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Royal Blood at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

The gig seemed like a fairy tale for the band, who kept reiterating their gratitude to all who’d turned out. The Cinderella story came to an alternate ending during the encore, when Kerr instructed a security guard to go forth and find the individual who had thrown a trainer at him, hitting his shoulder.

Even sat in the balcony, it was fully apparent that Kerr didn’t see any funny side in the incident. He burned his way through the final number, Out of the Black, before walking off leaving his bass ringing out on the microphone stand. Ironically, it was probably the most fitting ending to the night.

Royal Blood at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Royal Blood at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

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