19 Dec 2018

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Gig Review: Royal Blood @ Logan Campbell Centre - 01/05/2018

03 May 2018 // A review by Andrew Smit

The Logan Campbell Centre has seen many years of great rock acts like Nirvana and Metallica and tonight the well-worn 70's decor was rocked by Royal Blood's first headline shows in New Zealand.

Dead Favours were up first to warm the crowd, which was pretty much at capacity, this four-piece Auckland band have impressed and progressed steadily over the last two years since I saw them at their debut gig back in May 2016. They ripped into their originals and as each song was belted out the euphoric effect went up another level and it grabbed the crowd by the throat, and you could since they’re growing appreciation.

Lead vocalist Jared Wrennall's deft vocal work was on song, full of tuneful tones and scorching screams. Dead Favours songs are ballsy, fast driven, and full of dynamics. They have great riffs, tuneful verses and joyous choruses, and best of all there is Kyle Wetton's shredding guitar solos, full of soaring crescendos and releases that draw you in and let fly. All this is reinforced by the tight bursting rhythms from Charlie Smith on drums, coupled with the fat and the fat fuzzy bass from Ross Larsen, it all formed a broad sound that filled the room with warm rock vibes.

Jared was in good banter and he helped get the crowd warmed up by getting everyone to join him in some vocal exercises. A wonderfully long guitar sustain bridged two songs perfectly which was a great affect. At one stage Jared and Kyle were thrashing their guitars in a particularly extended instrumental section and it was like a euphoric burst of spine tapping grunge, and the crowd were rightly impressed. Their whole performance was very entertaining, you could feel the atmosphere and vibe grow, we liked what we heard and were generous in applause.

Later Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher from Royal Blood took to the stage and immediately showed why they are the force that they have become, their songs are brilliant and I for one wanted to hear if the live version would compare to the studio recordings, how can a bass sound so much like a guitar, how can the songs be so meaty? well it was stunning just how good they sound live, they were so tight and pitch perfect, each classic track was peeled off with relentless energy that was authoritative and powerful. Mike sounded humble and appreciative of the audiences loud and positive responses, both gentlemen came across as genuine nice guys, who know how to rock and enjoy what they do.

Their many radio hits sounded supremely cool live, Mike's skilful work on the bass was a stunning sight to see and a supreme sound to hear, the ease at which he can sing, and play is a testament to his talent. He has a singing voice with smooth tone and wonderful high pitch, his cool vocal sound is the musical gentrified part of the otherwise hard rock sound that we love. Ben on drums was as technical as you can get while also being powerful and turbulent. You might think he would have a massive 80's style drum kit with double kick bass and toms to Africa but no, it was a fairly standard kit with the only real extra being the big gong behind him. Ben dominates his kit and his strong hits and punches were felt on your chest, it was good, and we lapped it up.

The light show was very cool, a big V of vertical lights that flashed and chased to the music, just enough to add to the atmosphere but not distract you from the main show. Occasionally two lovely legged ladies graced the stage high in the background, contributing some superb backing vocals, they were brilliantly backlit too, providing impressive silhouettes. Understandably a few more smart phones than usual were raised to take it all in.

The set list left no great song behind, with 16 songs on the set list, kicking off with Lights Out and then into Come On Over sounding formidable live, the popular songs kept coming, I Only Lie and Little Monster all appearing in the first half of the show. You knew they were not leaving anything behind as they took deep breaths between songs, and kept well hydrated, mostly with water, but there was a healthy honouring of the wonderful delights of Tequila which Ben shared with the backing vocalists, once he had his share!

The audience was in the palm of Mike's hand, a simple wave of his hand would make the crowd burst into cheers, and I mean a loud roar, he could wave to the left or the right and that part of the audience would holler at the top of voices. As they neared the end more mega hit songs were pounded out, finishing on a role with Figure It Out then Ten Tonne Skeleton and lastly with their superb debut single Out of the Black.

The crowd came away impressed greatly by both bands, Royal Blood fans had their blood devotion reinforced, while any republicans were converted monarchy for life!

Review written by Andrew Smit


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