Review Scene : Royal Blood – Margaret Court Arena, May 9th 2018

Many a year ago Royal Blood only existed in the veins of royals, and then in 2013 on the way home from Heathrow Airport, England, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher decided to form a band. They’d played together before…in a four-piece outfit called Flavour Country, but perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder and it seems that Kerr’s sabbatical in Australia stirred up a yearning in him (and Thatcher) to make music at home again.
Royal Blood’s ascent to the top has been rapid. Kerr and Thatcher haven’t rested on their laurels by sitting back and waiting for success to find them though. Their tour schedule is, and has been punishing and has included three tours down under from 2014 to now, and a a string of North American dates on the back of this latest visit. From Footscray Community Arts Centre to the Corner Hotel and then to Margaret Court Arena, the size of Royal Blood’s Melbourne venues mirror just how far the band has come in five short years.
Margaret Court Arena is a shit of a venue to get to, but the crowded floor area attested to the band’s legion of fans who braved the weather and the exorbitant parking fees to see them. The seated areas were not packed however, and the spare chairs detracted from the atmosphere for those sitting in the gods. Perhaps a slightly smaller venue or a couple of pub style gigs would have showcased the band much better. As it was there seemed to be a lack of connection between the seated punters and the stage.
With only a four-song E.P. (U.S. release), and two albums Royal Blood don’t have a huge back catalogue of stuff to play,  but fans were assured that they would hear pretty much all the tracks they’ve come to know, despite the band’s focus on their newer album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’. Beginning with ‘Where are you now?’ and working through songs that have high commercial radio rotation like ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’, the punters front and centre of the floor area danced for all they were worth. It didn’t matter to them that Kerr had to restart the title track ‘How Did We Get So Dark’ after picking up the wrong bass, (Sack the roadie?) or that there was an inexplicable ‘lights out’ on stage between each song, the Royal Blood devotees applauded the band as though they were kings.
Too soon for many, the final song of the main set ‘Figure it Out’ assailed our ears, and after the two song encore Kerr and Thatcher left the building and headed for greener pastures and a little Splendour in the Grass -where they are due to headline no less!

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