REVIEW: Royal Blood with Mini Mansions – Ulster Hall, Belfast

royalbloodFresh from their illustrious award win of ‘Best British Band’ at the Brits, Royal Blood currently seem untouchable.

An impressive 18 months after the band appeared on the British music scene they have seemingly revitalised and revived rock, a genre that far from being dead needed to be stirred. Royal Blood have undoubtedly been the group to do so and Sunday night saw Ulster Hall alight with fervent fans awaiting what can only be described as the hottest band in music right now.

Starting off the night was Mini Mansions, hailing from L.A the band takes to the stage first with their own brand of California cool. Although the three piece are currently best known for the instantly recognisable QOTSA bassist Michael Shuman the band are definitely not to be dismissed or pigeon-holed.  Set opener ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is a ruminating and anguish-filled example of the bands song writing capabilities.

Shuman is both central and compelling during the performance commanding the stage despite being behind a drum kit. Creating a state of whimsy with their emotive melodies and dreamy pop their performance of songs such as ‘Monk’ is enchanting. Cascading harmonies between Shuman and keyboardist Tyler Parkford help ascertain the bands surreal and often psychedelic vibe.

Performing Blondies ‘A Heart of Glass’ the cover which seemed an odd choice is a perfect summation of what the band is about, doing something different. Their latest release ‘Death Is a Girl’ is a perfectly presented piece of indie-pop with its quirky and pounding rhythm and is the highlight of their set.

There is a nervous anticipation in the air as fans eagerly await band of the moment, Royal Blood. There can often be an overwhelming feeing of disappointment after hype of a certain height just doesn’t equate reality but as the group emerges frenzy erupts. Drummer Ben Thatcher enters to Pharoahe Monch’s epic classic ‘Simon Says’ and gives the audience a penetrating glare before taking his seat behind his kit.

Diving into their set with ‘Hole’ there is immediacy to the pair’s persistent power and fury which considering there is only two of them can be astounding. There is a definite swag surrounding the duo who has seemingly acquired the attitude of a band that has had a lifetime of practice and experience. Continuing their set with relentless momentum there is barely time to come up for air with singer Mike Kerr’s visceral vocals helping to drive songs  ‘Come on Over’ and ‘Figure it Out.’

There is genuine hysteria from the crowd as the fear of disappointment has vanished and has been instead replaced with genuine delight. There is an exhilarating buzz to be felt throughout Ulster Hall as the Brighton duo launch into hits such as ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Better Strangers’. Kerr’s base strung with guitar string helps give there sound that unusual but distinct tone that he has become famed for especially when performing ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’.

Apart from a light show there are no gimmicks to detract from Royal Bloods ability to put on such a commanding performance and is testament to their ability and talent. What was refreshing to see among the crowd at this gig is that Royal Blood’s music does not only appeal to a younger, newer audience but it also resonates with the generation that would have watched Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath in their prime. Ending the set with their very first release ‘Out of the Black’ the song that initially introduced us to the pair it is the perfect ending to a seamless performance. Aine Cronin-McCartney, GiggingNI.com