3 Arena, Dublin
In three short years, Royal Blood have swiftly outgrown several touchstone Irish venues; from their auspicious 2014 Irish debut at the Workman’s Club to supporting Guns N’ Roses at this year’s massive Slane Castle concert, via shows in the Academy and the Olympia. Now, the Brighton duo have naturally graduated to 3Arena headliner.
Main support comes in the form of the resurgent At the Drive In, who dispense their distinctive, hypnotic brand of jazz-emo fusion with the skill and aplomb of old masters. Cedric Bixler commands the stage like a man possessed, with the band’s aural onslaught perhaps leaving many ears still ringing come Monday morning. They finish with a blistering rendition of ‘One Armed Scissor’, which no doubt inspires some nostalgic recollections of MTV2 and Kerrang! in many of those present. Before launching into the 2000 classic, Bixler pays homage to his own musical influences as he encourages the Dublin audience to revisit the work of hometown postpunk legends, The Virgin Prunes.
I would normally feel sorry for any act that must follow At the Drive
In, and sure enough the Texans’ powerful, mighty avant-garde hardcore is the absolute triumph of the evening, but Royal Blood duly emerge with a crowd-pleasing – if repetitive – set.
The band raise the bar high from the get-go by opening with excellent new single ‘Lights Out. However, despite commanding the cavernous docklands hall with confidence, the musical tone of the evening remains wearingly consistent throughout. Royal Blood are superior players to be sure, but with little in the way of variation of style and tempo, they run the risk of monotony. There’s no denying the gargantuan sound the duo can conjure, but coming on immediately after such a dynamic support band as At the Drive In, Royal Blood’s music can’t help but feel wearisome at times. Despite this, they manage to pull off a decent night’s entertainment with an unusual mix of powerhouse rhythms, accomplished musicianship, extravagant arena lighting, and their amiable everyman personality (“I think we should all just meet up for drinks after the show,” singer Mike Kerr suggests to his 9,000 friends). Even the odd presence of a couple of shimmying backing singers on several tracks adds an amusingly daft touch of unintentional pop glamour to proceedings.