Like the other royals celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary on the night of this gig, Royal Blood are a loyal couple admired for their constancy. Old friends who play their stark bass-and-drums rock with minimal outside interference, the Worthing pair seem to have soared over the hurdle of the difficult second this year, making a gold seller of How Did We Get So Dark? – also their second number one.
At the first of three nights in this cavernous venue, they showed that despite their album’s title, they’re letting a little light in these days. She’s Creeping brought a touch of funk to their monolithic sound. Two female backing singers appeared occasionally to offer some rare high notes on newer songs such as I Only Lie When I Love You. The light show itself was a dazzler, a colour-changing cage with a big screen that sank to become a low, flashing ceiling.
That’s not to say they’ve softened or developed much. You’ll search in vain for a string section to suit their elevated status, though bassist Mike Kerr thumped at a keyboard during Hole in Your Heart, and drummer Ben Thatcher has bought a gong.
Otherwise, the song title Ten Tonne Skeleton was an apt description of their music. There’s not much to it, and all the bruising riffs could blur into one another, but it’s a mammoth, a brontosaurus. Come On Over rumbled energetically, Kerr occasionally summoning squeals as well as roars from his instrument.
If this sparse set-up has a weak link it’s Kerr’s unremarkable singing voice, which is incapable of becoming a roar to keep up with the jet engine sounds emanating from his bass. Otherwise, his punishment of his guitar and Thatcher’s equally unfriendly treatment of his drums made for an evening of primal thrills, dark but inviting.