Thursday, October 16, 2014

Royal Blood at Webster Hall's Marlin Room

Mike Kerr
Royal Blood began as a duo in Australia in 2012, with bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Matt Swan. Kerr returned to his native England in 2013 and reformed the concept with a childhood friend, drummer Ben Thatcher. The reunited musicians had one day's rehearsal and performed its first concert for friends in Brighton two days after Kerr's return to England. Royal Blood began releasing singles by the end of the year and created an instant buzz in British rock circles. A self-titled album released in August 2014 became the fastest-selling British rock debut album in three years in the United Kingdom.

Word of mouth from England helped sell out in advance Royal Blood's headlining concert tonight at Webster Hall's Marlin Room. The two musicians came onto a mostly bare stage without any calculated music and lights fanfare and began its opening song, "Hole." Immediately the duo became an enthralling curiosity. How was it that the bass sounded so much like a guitar? As Thatcher attacked his drums with steady, furious beats, Kerr launched each of the 12 songs of the night with a unique riff, sometimes leading to power chords and extended leads, all sounding like they came from a guitar. Forging Jack White-styled modern garage rock and classic blues rock, Royal Blood played its entire album plus two additional songs in an energetic 50 minutes. Kerr's smooth singing contrasted engagingly with his crunching, guttural bass grooves. On the faster songs, he hopped to the rhythms and charged to the Thatcher's drum kit across the stage. He hardly spoke a few words or even looked out to the audience, focusing on what he was doing with his bass and microphone. Thatcher, ironically, came out from behind the drum kit to rally an audience cry. Waving as they walked offstage after the closing mid-tempo "Out of the Black" (and no encore), the two members of Royal Blood summarily offered little showmanship in order to maximize its impressively innovative minimalistic music.

Visit Royal Blood at www.royalbloodband.com.