It’s just after 19:00 and I’ve wandered round to the Barrowlands on a Sunday evening to see Royal Blood, a band who has exploded onto the scene. After showing my ID and tickets (to stop touting), I climbed the stairs into the ballroom area and it was pretty empty. Surprising. But it gave me a chance to see the Barrowlands when it wasn’t chock-full of people.
I’m in the typical clothes you’d see at a rock gig: jeans, band t-shirt and leather jacket. Meanwhile, the vast majority of people around me are younger, indie kids and hipsters. Well, Royal Blood do appeal to the Radio 1/NME crowd.
Anyway, first up were support band, Mini Mansions. Jesus, fuck. I’ve witnessed some terrible support bands in my time. These guys are up there with the worst. Normally, even if a band is bad, I still give them the courtesy of my attention. These guys were so bad I retreated to Facebook and had a conversation about gig venues. Far more entertaining. I don’t even know what kind of music Mini Mansions were playing. There was a bass guitar, drums and synths. The last two also providing whiny vocals. Never again.
Between bands, we were treated to some great tunes via the PA. And Bon Jovi. Though Tenacious D’s “Tribute” proved anyone can singalong to that magnificent tune. Then, Royal Blood treated us to their presence with the tension rising. Even on the album, they make a lot of noise. Live, they bring it to an all new level. Certainly the remarkable aspect of the band’s sound isn’t due to the unsmiling Ben Thatcher. It’s Mike Kerr’s bass. He gets a fantastic sound out of just four strings. It’s a breath of fresh air.
Playing the vast majority of their debut album with a few other tracks such as a cover of T.Rex’s “20th Century Boy” for good measure, they lasted just under an hour. Which is fair given they have one album. As performers, they were fine, if a little sloppy. But given they’re a band who are only 18 months old when most bands spend that time building a fan base before an album, it’s understandable. Sounding every bit as good live as they do on the album, Mike Kerr sounds fantastic on vocals. Ben Thatcher is a solid enough drummer but nothing spectacular. There’s better drummers out there such as Danny Dolan or Dave McCluskey.
On the other hand, the crowd were a different case. Jumping, starting pits and walls of death for most of the set. To something as tame as Royal Blood. If moshing is something you do at a Royal Blood gig, what would you do if you were at a Manowar gig or Slayer? Sacrifice a goat? My money would be on shitting your pants. And while we’re on the subject, as people were jumping about or just enjoying the music, I noticed a load of people with their index finger raised as high as possible to the ceiling or at the band. What the fuck is that? Is it a cult sign? Did you have your pinky chopped off and can’t do devil horns? Admittedly, I wouldn’t throw the horns to Royal Blood or air guitar like the guy next to me was, but that makes no sense. Must be a Radio 1/NME thing.
Then we had the God awful “here we go” chant. Can we get over that already? Even the superior Billy Joel version has worn a bit thin. And the various people filming the show. That’s a whole rant in itself. If anything, last night was a reminder of how out of touch I am with my generation. And honestly, that’s fine by me. I accepted that a long time ago.
Rants aside, Royal Blood are a decent live act, if a little over-hyped. It was one of those shows where the band were decent enough but the crowd spoiled it for the most of it. There’s better bands playing in smaller venues. Had Royal Blood had the chance to work on their craft, getting another couple of albums under their belt, tightening their performance, they’d have played a great show last night worthy of the Barrowlands.