Show Review: The Shelters/Royal Blood, Newport Music Hall, June 10, 2017

In 2014 Brighton, UK, duo Royal Blood emerged with their debut, self-titled LP and immediately garnered praise from music critics and rock luminaries alike. In fact Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) said ”Their album has taken the genre up a serious few notches. It’s so refreshing to hear, because they play with the spirit of the things that have preceded them, but you can hear they’re going to take rock into a new realm – if they’re not already doing that. It’s music of tremendous quality.”

Zeppelin’s influence is undoubtedly heard in Royal Blood’s marriage of blues, heavy metal, and a punk rock ethos, which sees front man Mike Kerr playing an electric bass through a secret and proprietary pedal set-up that creates the sound of a wall of guitars. Paired with the likes of Ben Thatcher on drums, who evokes a sense of John Bonham and Dave Grohl ‘s classiest moments behind the kit, Royal Blood make a racket so thunderously huge that, frankly, just two people have no business making it.

The formula is simple, genius, and hits hard. 2017 sees the band unleashing their second full length How Did We Get So Dark? (Warner Bros Records) after taking roughly a year off from touring behind the aforementioned self-titled debut and holing up in Brussels during the winter to produce their sophomore effort. With the full album not to be released until June 16, the singles “Lights Out,” “Hook, Line, and Sinker,” and “I Only Lie When I Love You” have proven to be immediate hard hitters reminiscent of the first record but almost exhibiting a dryer, more blues focused sound with an emphasis on hooks. The gargantuan riffs courtesy of Mike Kerr are still present, but the songs seem even more controlled this time around.

Royal Blood brought their new record and live production to Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio, on June 10, 2017, just one night before appearing at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. Seeing a band on the verge of world domination while they are completely on fire in a 1,700 capacity concert hall is nothing short of exhilarating, and this was no exception.

Walking onstage to “Down In Mexico” by The Coasters, Royal Blood quickly launched into “Where Are You Now?” from the new record, and soundtrack to HBO’s Vinyl, followed by new single “Lights Out“ and a crowd-favorite “Come On Over” from the first record. The rest of the set pulled perfectly from both records with extended intros/outros/drum solos, and an amazing backdrop of light towers that gave the stage a simple yet flashy look perfectly complimentary to the sound Royal Blood creates.

Openers The Shelters hit their mark strong with a heartland rock inspired set, evoking Tom Petty at times which makes sense considering two of the members have credits on Petty’s 2014 effort, Hypnotic Eye.

In a 2014 Tweet, Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage) said this of Royal Blood: ”I’ve seen the future of riff rock and its name is #RoyalBlood” In my estimation, he’s 100 percent correct.

Review by Dustin Rinehart. Photo by Perou Extralarge