Amidst a sea of silhouetted shoulders, the crowd awaited the kick-off of a night they had clearly been anticipating for some time. From the very first reverberation within the walls of the 3 Arena, we were left in awe of this duo’s raw talent. Opening with “Lights Out”, the first single of their recent second album How Did We Get So Dark?, the band revealed the high energy levels they would not fail to uphold throughout their near two-hour performance. Mike Kerr’s melodic mastering of their lovelorn lyrics were perfectly undercut by the saturated wails of his bass and the rigorous pounding of fellow member Ben Thatcher on drums. Their impeccable dynamism had fans singing along with adoration, heads swinging back and forth in a frenzy to match every beat.
Royal Blood are a rock band through and through. For a two-man ensemble to step out onto such a stage and conquer every single inch is an achievement in itself. Their passion for performance was undeniable and the audience mirrored this, forming engulfing mosh pits that only grew more raucous as the night wore on. Mist hovered around the band, captured in fragments by the beaming red and blue hues pouring from the ceiling, setting the duo up as God-like above the stage. But the pride that shone across their faces when lashing out first-album classics such as ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Figure It Out’ left no doubt that this band are still tied tightly to the roots that first set them rightly on the road to fame.
The near-flawless standard with which they shook the stage was even more striking following two opening acts that left audiences hungry for the headliners. Brighton based Black Honey stepped out with great promise, channelling a Blondie-esque aesthetic and a sound somewhat reminiscent of Tarantino’s Kill Bill. However, much was left to be desired as they sprinted through their setlist with moments of rehearsed banter and detached dancing merely thrown into the mix. The more experienced At The Drive In whipped the rug from under our feet with a gobsmacking stage presence that their musical talents could never quite keep up with. Frontman Cedric Blixer’s sanctimonious and sexual antics had their few scattered fans dancing with devotion, while audiences unfamiliar with the band stood shell-shocked wondering if they had mistakenly walked into a comedy gig.
Nonetheless, as the venue packed out and we sang along to the 3 Arena’s “in-between-acts” playlist, it would be a lie to say we were not warmed up and raring for the main event. This generation’s answer to the White Stripes, former metal-heads and indie-boppers alike were to be found amongst the dedicated crowd at Royal Blood. The duo seemed like they would have been happy to play endlessly, smirking knowingly as they exited the stage before the chanting and stomping emanating from the pit lured them back out to close the show with a punch. Ending with the heavy opener of their debut album, ‘Out Of The Black’ had fans going frightfully wild and allowed the gig to come full circle. They started strong and finished stronger, Royal Blood set the bar high for any future Dublin performances.
As we stepped out from the venue into the pouring rain with ringing ears, pounding hearts and likely a fair few bruises, fans smiled fully aware that they had just been part of an unforgettable experience. Post-concert listening to the band’s two killer albums almost takes one back, but recordings will never live up to the sensation of vibrations on the soles of your feet and the rhythmically charged blood-flow that accompanied the music on the night. If you like rock music, do not let Royal Blood slip under your radar.