Royal Blood @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW Australia 20/07/2017 written by Brendan Lewis
The crowd slowly pours in the venue, not rushing in like a bat out of hell, while under the influence of Red Bull. The crowd were surprisingly calm and still respecting gig luxury of personal space.
After the band, are of course, fashionably late by 15 minutes, the background music grows louder, as the band stroll onto the stage to cheering fans and the get themselves ready.
The opening song, surprisingly isn’t the opening track and album titled song from their latest album which is usually the case for an album tour. Instead, its instantly up-beat track ‘Where Are You Now?’, the energy starts big with Michael instigating a crowd clap along from the get go, promising start to the show indeed!
Song #2 of the set and from the latest album, ‘Light’s Out’ was next, with everyone in the audience singing along in perfect… ish, slightly tone deaf harmony. The sound was definitely fixed since I last saw the band in 2014 where the vocals were drowned out by thunderous bass. Everything was clear even for us front row gunners, which was amazing, learnt much, the sound mixer has. You could hear Michael’s powerful catchy vocals perfectly even over the top of his roaring bass lines.
After the second hard hitter, Michael addressed the audience briefly, which helped raise the hype for the next song ‘Come On Over’ which was evidently a crowd favourite, with the crowds energy building dramatically to climatic levels. Even with the crowds energy exploding, and even more so when Michael beckoned the crowd to sing along during the chorus, it was still far more relaxed and civil than I had anticipated. Having enough space to reach down to scratch your ass or get your phone out of your pocket is not something I thought would be possible… the night is still young though.
The glorious energy is sustained with the next song ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ off their new album, which judging from the crowds reaction and the little space around me tightening, its sure to be one of the bands’ classics, with everyone singing along regardless of it being a fresh hit, it was perfectly positioned in the set.
Next, surprisingly, but very much appropriately, the band launched into massive rock hit, ‘Little Monster’ which I would’ve expected to be later in the set, but was perfect to raise the energy even more, and diminish any and all space I had. The crowd sung along more loudly than previous songs, but only slightly less tone deaf, and the head banging and fist pumping emerged from the crowd at last. I noticed Michael did some ear catching guitar/bass improvisations, and heading into the bridge, Ben on drums joined Michael with the improvising and gave the audience a good ol’ rock n’ roll drum solo in the songs’ bridge.
Seems like an ace of a show right now doesn’t it? Well, that brings me to my next points. Even me, someone who’s sight competes with that of the aforementioned bats out of hell, I couldn’t help but notice the low-budget blue rectangle lights on the stage, (I think they were blue?) that didn’t differ from solid blue, or flashing blue. This may be to add to the pub vibe the Metro Theatre has, and intimacy of the show possibly, but if not, the light is definitely far from stimulating and atmospheric. This will be interesting to see at the Hordern Pavilion next year, a much bigger arena setting venue.
My focus was drawn to the dull lighting as the following few songs after ‘Little Monster’ didn’t do much for me, I feel that unless these songs are your special happy songs that you were hanging out for all night, they didn’t meet the hype and energy of the show so far. I mean yes, they’re great songs and have catchy rifts and hooks, but when the band don’t mix things up and don’t engage the audience, feeding off their sheer excitement, it solidified the fact that it was no different to hearing it on your stereo up loud with a bunch of sweaty strangers, and let down the energy sadly, this was made evident by the return of the ability to scratch my ass. Also, at this stage of the set, there were awkward, teasing silences between songs that made it way too easy for me to scribble down notes without missing anything, c’mon guys, where’s the challenge in that? Although this did give the band a chance to drink some booze to chanting fans, like a rock band does so eloquently, but that was the most the band engages the audience during this part of the set. I was getting worried that the best of the show was behind us.
Thankfully not, the energy re-awoke slowly but steadily, with ‘Hole In Your Heart’ and with Michael properly talking to the audience and connecting with them. And of course, its only good sportsmanship to introduce the rest of the band to the audience. After that tummy jiggling-joke, that won the crowds focus and energy back over for the home stretch of the show.
Song #10 in the set, classic rock anthem ‘Figure It Out’ was the pinnacle of what I had expected for this highly anticipated rock show, crowd surfers galore, drenched in sweat on a freezing cold July night, struggling to stand up straight with the masses drunkenly dancing and in-sync-jumping in every direction orchestrated by the band. That in mind, these shows bring crowds that are not for the feint hearted souls.
As the cheers grew louder and fans continue to go wild, and just as things looked climatic and promising yet again, Michael thanked the crowd for coming out thus closing the set… until the encore? Surely!
Of course the final song was epic rock monster ‘Out Of The Black’ which surprisingly didn’t make the crowd go as ape-shitty as I thought it would, rather the crowd were focused and thoroughly ecstatic I think. This was the perfect closing song, with its early biting lyrics and grunge hooks emphasised by an extended bridge drum and guitar solo, followed by a pause… wait for it… (suspense building), then bam, the final epic thumping beat of the songs conclusion.
The crowd, me included, went crazy with applause after that colossal hit! The crowd of course, begged and chanted for an encore, but sadly, their demands weren’t met after the unbroken continuation of roadies packing up the stage, background music and venue lights. With that much energy that the band left in the crowd, its almost cruel not to let us down easy and just give us one more song, especially after I noticed the time, and that the bands’ performance only went for about 1 hour and 15 minutes instead of the typical hour and a half to 1 hour 45 minute sets.
All in all, this was a fantastic, high-power, great sounding good ol’ pub rock show, and these guys are most definitely worth seeing live and I look forward to seeing them again! I just wouldn’t say it was a show to bring me to the all-over euphoric tingles stage a truly amazing show leaves me with.