From middle-aged men taking selfies at the bar to several groups of teenage girls congregating in matching leather jackets at the back of the room, Royal Blood certainly attracted an eclectic crowd to Birmingham’s Institute. Off the back of their eponymous number one album earlier this year, the duo’s sold out show began with both a raucously wild set by support Turbowolf and Jay Z’s ‘99 Problems’, the latter especially pumping up the crowd and encouraging a room-wide sing-along.
Opening with fan favourite ‘Hole’, easing the packed crowd into their fast-paced and brooding (if not small) catalogue of tunes, the duo received both rapturous cheers and applause as they launched into single ‘Come On Over’. With lead singer and bassist Mike Kerr stopping only twice to make sure everyone knew who they were (ironic given the situation) and to make sure the Birmingham crowd were having a good time, the two meant business, turning the venue into a sure-fire sweatbox within seconds. Set list highlights – of which there were several despite a tight 50-minute show time – included dark track ‘Blood Hands’, eliciting even the tamest of gig goers to head bang shamelessly, and latest (and also most successful so far) single ‘Figure It Out’ which not only caused the rowdy crowd to jump but also to sing along with Mike’s killer bass.
However, the main highlight for me was definitely show closer and their debut single, ‘Out of the Black’. If this didn’t delight me, it certainly made happy the very drunk man in the band t-shirt stood directly on my left. This final song not only closed the show in a dramatic and strobe-tastic way, but also caused drummer Ben Thatcher to emerge from behind his drum kit, make his way to the front of the crowd and tease for a minute or two the possibility of crowd-surfing, an activity many members of the crowd had had a go at themselves. This gave them a chance to relish the applause and adulation they most definitely deserved – and not surprisingly, took Ben closer to the stench of cider and sweat that had been ever-present the minute you stepped into the venue.
What is clear from a small, yet packed-out show such as this is that Royal Blood are doing it right – they have the talent but also the simplicity and nuanced ability to create a darkly entertaining show that I have no doubt pleased every single one of the (very lucky) people who were able to obtain a ticket. It’s obvious that this is only the start for the Brighton duo, and that come the end of next year’s (also sold out) academy tour, they’ll be sending much larger crowds into a frenzy. It also taught me that you can arrive late to the concert and still get to the barrier – a personal achievement I’m very proud of despite the boisterous nature of such a crowd! I can’t wait to see what these two get up to throughout 2015: it’s sure to be a belter.
Words by Kirstie Sutherland