Performing at The Sylvee in April, Royal Blood showed crowds that in order to make a big sound, you don’t necessarily need a big band.
Made up of just two members, the band brought rock and metal to the stage with a variety of guitar and drum tones to satisfy fans of screaming guitars everywhere. The UK rock duo’s performance came as part of their tour spanning the U.S. and Europe.
Cleopatrick opened the concert for the night, giving the crowd a mix of slow and driving rock, which was just a taste of the music that was to come when Royal Blood took to the stage. Lead guitarist and vocalist Luke Gruntz was especially emotive during the set, shaking his guitar with every power chord, falling to his knees at the ends of songs and allowing scratchy guitar interference to ring out in between songs.
“We’ve never been to Madison before,” Gruntz said to the crowd in between songs. He did mention, though, that he was beginning to enjoy the city, earning lots of excited applause from the crowd.
Despite serving as the opener, Cleopatrick knew how to work the crowd well and soon had them cheering and headbanging along with their powerful, beat-driven songs.
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A lengthy intermission followed as stage workers unveiled the setup for Royal Blood, which consisted of a wide arc of LED lights and a massive drum set complete with a hanging gong large enough to serve as a dinner table. Though occasionally joined by a back up keyboard player, Royal Blood only needed their drummer and lead guitar to bring down the house.
Throughout their show, Royal Blood stuck to what they knew best, playing more music and interacting with the crowd far less than Cleopatrick. But this did not detract much from their performance as the band’s sound technical skills and their fiery rock beats had the crowd flashing “rock on” hand signs and forming a small moshpit not long after the duo started their set.
The stage came to life for each song Royal Blood played as beacons of light shot from mounted stage lights and the background lighting arc alternated from deep red tones to bright blues and everything in between.
Though the band lacked a bassist, that did not deter guitar player Mike Kerr, who played a mix of lead guitar and bass rhythms throughout the show. At one point, Kerr sent out a heavy wave a bass notes that created a deep vibrato in the ribcage of anyone within range of The Sylvee’s powerful speakers.
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A mid-show solo from drummer Ben Thatcher wowed the audience with his furious beats and well-practiced style. Using the whole array from his massive kit, Thatcher proved he knew his way around a drum set well. In an electric moment, Thatcher took out a massive drum mallet and gave the crowd what they had been waiting for all night, crashing the giant gong behind him as the audience erupted into cheers.
To end their show, Royal Blood gave a number of encore performances, including oner show-stopper where they brought out a piano to play a slow ballad piece. The two closed the show with one of their more popular pieces “Out of the Black,” before bidding the crowd and Madison goodnight.