It has been four years since Royal Blood were last in Brighton; on the 15th of September, they gave a performance well worth the wait.
The two-piece, formed by Mike Kerr (bass, vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums) in 2013, started out playing wherever they could in Brighton, before suddenly enjoying prominence when the Arctic Monkeys’ drummer wore a Royal Blood shirt at their Glastonbury headline performance. They soon released their eponymous debut album in 2014, with a second released in 2017.
Since their last Brighton show in November 2017, Royal Blood have spent two years on the road, 2020 confined them to their homes as Covid-19 spread, then this year they made their comeback after releasing their third album in April.
The Brighton Centre had only just reopened for capacity crowds ten days earlier, after Covid forced their doors shut for 18 months. The audience’s eagerness for live music’s long-awaited return was clear to see with the queue winding from the seafront deep into West Street as the opening time gradually approached. Once the doors opened, the queue moved steadily into the Centre, with ticket and Covid Pass checks done at the doors, ensuring a smooth flow.
The stage contained a large central platform, raised on one side to house Thatcher’s drums, with a smaller raised section for Kerr. A small set of microphones were placed on the side for the opening act to use.
The Mysterines, an up-and-coming rock band from Liverpool, opened the show and blasted through their forty-minute set, with their fast, distorted hard-rock style priming the audience for the main event.
Appropriately, Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ introduced Kerr and Thatcher as they made their way to the stage, the audience going wild at their sight. The stage was then illuminated with rays of pink and blue providing the backdrop, as the band introduced ‘Typhoons’, their latest album’s title song, to an ecstatic crowd who sung every verse. The band’s new sound was successfully introduced to the audience, with it working as a great first song.
‘Boilermaker’ followed, another from the latest album, but heavier in tone, providing something more familiar to the conventional Royal Blood sound. A trio of songs from 2017’s How Did We Get So Dark? began with the popular ‘Lights Out’, followed by the heavy ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’, with ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ bringing it to a close, all of which used strong red and white lighting in time with each song’s main riffs between the verses. Kerr’s confidence and swagger was evident, with the band thriving off the crowd’s energy, which only grew.
The band charged into ‘Little Monster’, with it being halted when a fight broke out in the crowd, which was quickly resolved, and the song restarted with the same intensity as before. Then the Typhoons-era songs returned, with the album’s first single, ‘Trouble’s Coming’ performed with the backing singers in perfect harmony as the orange and blue lights circled the band, signaling their return to the newer sound, with ‘Oblivion’ following.
The main set finished with several songs from 2014’s debut album, with ‘Out Of The Black’ preceded by Thatcher changing into a Brighton & Hove Albion shirt, met by deafening cheers for this show of loyalty to the city. Midway through the song’s solo, Thatcher went to greet the crowd, with everyone reaching for him as he lapped it up. He gestured back to Kerr as the closing riff begun, the song finishing with Thatcher’s pounding drums returning.
The encore was opened by ‘All We Have Is Now’, Typhoon’s slow melodic piano piece, complimented by every phone raised and lighted, the audience swaying in unison, with this followed by ‘Limbo’. The audience was treated to an extended version of ‘Figure It Out’, Royal Blood’s first hit, to close the show.
When asking George Meaden and Tom Palethorpe, two local music fans from West Sussex, of their overall experience, George (whose first time hearing the band was the concert) said: “They were great.
“The band was amazing they sounded just as good live as they do in their songs you can find online; the whole vibe they gave off with the crowd was my highlight, they got us to sing along and gave a good bass line to rock out to.
“The experience was insane; the whole crowd was wild having a good time.
“I bought myself a Royal Blood t-shirt which was fairly priced, and I just felt compelled to do so.
“They’re such a great band and it wouldn’t have been right not having a souvenir to remember the experience.”
Tom, who first heard Royal Blood at Reading Festival in 2019, agreed with the show’s quality, saying: “I’ve been to a fair few gigs over the last couple of months since lockdown, and Royal Blood was my favourite.
“Some bands sound nothing like how they do on their actual recorded albums, but Royal Blood sounded ten times better.
“The audience for the gig was amazing.
“The crowd got really involved, bouncing and moshing”, even the small fight that occurred didn’t affect the mood: “the crowd weren’t affected and the gig was still amazing nonetheless.”
For everyone at the show, it was an unforgettable experience they will never forget. The Brighton Centre provided the ideal intimate environment for the show, with everyone close to the action. Kerr and Thatcher performed with the ability and confidence of a band who have matured and mastered their craft, playing each song to crisp perfection. The audience responded in the only way possible, providing an atmosphere that rivals (if not, beats) the festivals Royal Blood have become accustomed to over their last years touring the world. People formed mosh pits nearly every song, with Thatcher waving his drumsticks to orchestrate them. Kerr commanded the crowd masterly, getting the audience wild before launching into ‘Out Of The Black’ and encouraging the mosh pits to pressure the seated audience members until they got up from their seats.
After four years of not having Royal Blood back in Brighton, the only hope left after the show was that there won’t be another long wait before their next homecoming. George said: “They have such variety in their music that every song has its own little twist.
“I would definitely see them again if given the chance if they ever came locally again.”
Tom stated how after the gig he would watch them again, saying: “Yes, 100% without a doubt.
“A lot of bands I’d wait for another album to be dropped, but with Royal Blood I’d go see them again in a heartbeat.
“One of the best bands I’ve seen live for sure.”
For the band, they now have a show in Mexico in November to mark the end of the comeback year from their Covid-enforced break. Then next year they have a tour of the UK and Western Europe, including stops at Paris, Berlin, Milan, Amsterdam and London. Everywhere they will journey to, they will be met by thousands of excited fans each day at a variety of venues, large or small.
But for Royal Blood, there won’t be anywhere like home.