Royal Blood

Royal Blood•Hot Wax•November 17, 2023•The Union

Reviewed and Photographed by Morgan Newbold

Photo Credit: Morgan Newbold

Royal Blood, the British rock duo comprised of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher, took the stage in Salt Lake City last Friday night! Playing to a nearly sold-out crowd at The Union, Royal Blood brought an electrifying performance that will be remembered for a while. They had the whole audience enthralled. Jumping along to endless punk-rock bangers, like their hits ‘Out of the Black’ and ‘Little Monster’. Ben, the drummer, even took the spotlight for a drum solo that altered the energy in the building. Both of these artists proved their insane talent 3x over during their hour-and-a-half set. 

From Brighton, UK, Mike and Ben formed Royal Blood in 2011, and released their debut self-titled album in 2014. They quickly made a name for themselves and have released 3 more albums since then. The newest being 2023’s ‘Back to the Water Below’. Their debut album went #1 in the UK, and Ireland. And they won a Brit Award for Best British Group in 2015 as well as in 2018. They’ve toured with massive bands like Foo Fighters and have since then been touring around Europe and the US, selling out several gigs. 

The show opened with ‘Mountains at Midnight’ from their latest record, and I was grateful to see the drummer up front where I could actually see and capture him. Mike’s impressive riffs and distorted tones, paired beautifully with his voice. I was shocked to see that he was playing everything on a bass. I’ve never seen that before. Mike’s voice is powerful, striking yet smooth, and he showcased not only expert and raw vocals, but insane instrumental abilities. Looked to my right to see Ben pounding the drums, reverberating a thunderous sound in the air, and I knew that this show would not disappoint.

The both of them combined can put on a performance that rivals a 5 piece rock band. The lights were blasting and intense, lighting up the stage remarkably well. There was a perfect mix of strobe and orange lights, and occasionally purple and red towards the end. Made it fairly easy to shoot even from the back of the pit. Sometimes it’s most satisfying to watch the production from there, seeing everyone jump and mosh, hands in the air silhouetting and framing the band. That makes for some nice atmospheric shots. 

They played a decently lengthed set, about 18 songs from their 4 albums. I had never heard their music before, and I always enjoy hearing new artists live. They put on a fantastic show and were extremely interactive with the crowd. Throwing in moments to let the crowd sing and clap along, that would wind up the anticipation for the guitar solos and anthemic bridges in the songs. The connection between the band and the audience was palpable throughout the night. Their confident stage presence and occasional banter enhanced the performance immensely. The crowd, a diverse mix of die-hard fans and newcomers alike, responded with intense enthusiasm, singing along to every lyric and feeding off the infectious energy emanating from the duo. 

A notable moment of the show was the extended instrumentals of certain tracks, allowing Kerr and Thatcher to show off their raw musical skills. As I mentioned before, the drum solo following ‘Little Monster’ that lead into ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ left fans exhilarated and cheering louder than before. That was fun to witness! Ben has a wholesome and fun energy, and I could see how much he loves the back and forth interactions with the crowd.

Towards the end of the concert everyone was even more amped up! They started jumping a lot, and honestly not that many people were filming. Everyone seemed fully immersed and in the moment! During the encore, they brought out the openers Hot Wax, to play ‘Waves’ with them. Then they closed out the night with their biggest song ‘Figure it out’! Overall it was a pretty impressive performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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