Words Shawn Moody/photos Brad Holland
Holy Shit! That was something.
We’re gonna get drunk and have a good fuckin’ time together”, Royal Blood’s lead singer and bassist Mike Kerr informed the crowd packed into Auckland’s Logan Campbell Centre last night. Not that they needed any prompting – this was an audience that at times threatened to tear the room off the building. Not bad for a band with only two albums under their belts.
I arrived just before 9pm and was treated to the spectacle of the British duo sauntering on to the stage to sound of KC and the Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight. On odd, but welcome choice for a bass and drum heavy band that float somewhere between The Black Keys and The White Stripes in a musical gap that I didn’t even know existed.
I was lucky to even make the start of the gig if I’m being honest. Since breaking out with their self-titled debut album in 2014 the band have been nominated for a bucketload of music awards (the prestigious Mercury Prize and a Brit Award for Best British Group among them) and have been playing to packed arenas while touring with the likes of the Queens of the Stone Age.
This is a band who is well and truly having a moment.
They’re getting extended play on Kiwi rock stations and would happily have been at home in Auckland’s Spark Arena. At least that is what I thought as I arrived there in an Uber at just after 8.15pm.
Unfortunately for me, the stadium-sized spectacle that the band were going to deliver was actually taking place at the Logan Campbell Centre, otherwise known as the somewhat run-down chilly bin in Greenlane. Teaches me for not reading my emails properly.
Before I had time to reflect on my rather expensive Uber, Kerr’s booming bass ripped through the amps, whipping the crowd into a fever pitch that wouldn’t let up until the lights came up almost two hours later. From the get go Kerr, on vocals and a bass that he wielded as a lead instrument and drummer Ben Thatcher, a picture of precision, were in total control of the crowd and their performance.
Starting with crowd-favourites “Where Are You Now?” and “Lights Out”, off their latest album “How Did We Get So Dark?”, the band did their best to warm up an audience that were being absolutely blasted by the venues air conditioning (I spent the entire gig in a jacket).
Growling bass and surging drums present on “Where Are You Now?” was met with a loud cheer which only dissipated when the 2000-person strong crowd began screaming the chorus back to the band.
For its part, “Lights Out” is a blistering rock song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Queens of the Stone Age album and is perhaps the best example of the finely poised struggle between melody and muscular riffing that has generated the band such wide acclaim.
The night continued at this blistering pace, with singles “I Only Lie When I Love You”, “Figure It Out”, and “How Did It Get So Dark?” standing out as particular highlights.
After the ‘Billie Jean’-esque ending of “Figure It Out” signaled time for the band to leave the stage for their encore, it struck me that the show had flashed past in what felt like the blink of an eye.
I’ve been to a lot of gigs, and you know you’ve witnessed something special when you get that feeling. Royal Blood have been anointed by, well, basically everyone, as future kings of rock for a while now, and this gig served as the perfect reminder for why this reputation has been well and truly earned.
Where Are You Now?
Come on Over
You Can Be So Cruel
I Only Lie When I Love You
Look Like You Know
Hook, Line & Sinker
Hole in Your Heart
How Did We Get So Dark?
Figure It Out
Ten Tonne Skeleton
Out of the Black