Off the back of a Pyramid Stage performance at Glastonbury, Royal Blood made the trip down under to play New Zealand’s Spark Arena last night.
I, along with a few thousand Kiwi rock fans, got busy, getting down to one of the most exciting rock bands in the world. It was glorious.
Royal Blood is the duo of Ben Thatcher (drums) and Mike Kerr (Bass, Vocals). While they might be totally in sync on stage, they have approached the NZ leg of their tour in completely different ways.
In an interview with The Rock's Jay and Dunc on the day of the show, Mike said: “I’d never been to the South Island before, I had a week off so I figured get here early, get into the vibe and do some touristy shit”.
Ben, on the other hand, sounded like he had been/was still on an almighty bender.
Jay told the drummer: “Ben, you’ve just rolled in and said you’ve got two eyes like piss holes in the snow, and you don’t even know where we are. Welcome to New Zealand, by the way.”
I want that in a rock n roll band. I want some attitude. I want some edge. And luckily, that's what the Kiwi fans got.
Royal Blood kicked off their set with ‘Mountains At Midnight’, the lead single off their latest album ‘Back to the Water Below’ - the band's fourth record to go to number 1 in the UK.
Spark Arena was a melting pot of heavy rock riﬀs and aggressively gorgeous drumming. It was an evening of sweet, sweaty, and sexy rock n roll.
Ben downed his beer in between songs to raucous applause before later leaping out of his drum kit and almost jumping into the crowd, commandeering the thousands to open up mosh pits, to dance, to collide and to let rip.
'Boilermaker' was a high point in the set. The song was produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. Josh Homme, Mike Kerr, Ben Thatcher… YES FKN PLEASE… how could it not be a hit?
The boys finished with ‘Out Of The Black’, before returning for an encore of ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ and ‘Figure It Out’. A jubilant sweaty sing-a-long to close out a hecticly awesome evening.
SIDE NOTE: The last time I saw Royal Blood was in a large field in Belgium at Rock Werchter. 80,000 people were eagerly awaiting Royal Blood who would be followed by The Killers and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to close the evening.
I wrote a diary entry that evening, a little chopped on 8% Belgium beer, so excuse the profanity and lack of grammar and basic sentence structure and all that shit.
“Royal Blood: Wild… So much fucking noise from 2 people, mosh pits & circles wild atmos.
There was a smallish scrawny white kid in the mosh pit with a fly swat that he had put gaffa tape on the end. He was hitting himself & his mate with it.
He also had a toothbrush attached to a string to do the same thing. He was waving it around like a fucking chopper.. Hahaha.
I’m trying to fall asleep but can’t, I’m just trying to imagine his thought process pre-gig organising a toothbrush & string as a weapon for the mosh… what’s that geezer like around the dinner table? I stayed away from the scrawny white kid with a glare in his eye for his next victim…”
There are fleeting moments where Kiwi crowds capture that same raucous, loving energy you find overseas, and its pure magic.
I'm sure when Foals & Foo Fighters come to NZ in January there will be more madness! And I CAN'T WAIT!
As always, thank you to Royal Blood for making the trip to the middle of nowhere. Forever grateful for you travelling so far to share your art with us.
By Matthew Pledger