The most hyped show of the year had touts busily booking autumn breaks in the sun, fans passing out before a note had been played and two blokes from Brighton feeling the full weight of expectation.
Compact, vibrant support Turbowolf took the fight to the Royal Blood masses with an excitable set that encouraged participation and promised much. Come show time for the headliners and the Riverside was rammed – the venue under the shadow of the swing bridge finally realising its potential as part of the Think Tank? family.
It’s always a good sign when the intro tape inspires a singalong and the mood had reached fever pitch by the time Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher poked their heads above the parapet and prepared to let loose.
For a duo Royal Blood deliver at a volume that shouldn’t be possible. Hole proved there would be no hanging about as far as these boys were concerned and they blasted through Come On Over with the zeal and relish of a band that’s entirely comfortable with its rapid ascendancy.
A good sound, a cracking atmosphere and all of signature anthems from 2014’s critically acclaimed debut ensured this show would go down as an ‘I was there’ moment for the frenzied Toon masses. Figure It Out proved to be a pummeling triumph even if Thatcher looked ready to take off such is the power in his clenched fists.
The phones finally came out for Little Monster and by then Royal Blood had more than lived up to the pre-show hype. This was a chance to catch a lasting glimpse of UK rock’s next big thing before the inevitable graduation from sweaty clubs to vacuous theatres, soulless arenas and beyond.
It was a chance the digital generation took with open arms and videos of Thatcher crowd walking will be doing the rounds for months to come.
All over in a flash – 50 minutes at most – this blur of a gig left the crowd wanting so much more and dreaming of what might come next. But be careful what you wish for: Royal Blood in such a tight venue is a rare treat indeed and nights like this won’t be repeated given the duo’s relentless advance towards greatness.