Royal Blood took over Birmingham Utilita Arena last night and we decided to check them out. The concourse opened at 6pm for fans to grab merch, food and drink. We arrived around 7pm to find a crowd of all ages prior to the show ranging from approximately four to the over sixties. An estimated 14,500 audience slowly filled the arena in time for the opening act. The Amazons. The smoke machine's pumped around the stage as the fans prepared for them to start the show.
Bang on time at 7:45pm The Amazon's took center stage. Kicking off their set with 'In My Mind' The Amazon's came in strong with huge energy. The band's frontman, Matthew Thomson took the opportunity to reflect on how far they have come in stating how big the venue seemed compared to starting in 'The Sunflower Lounge', a small venue located in the center of Birmingham.
'Bloodrush' was next on their set where we felt their stage presence in the form of good vocals and great mix levels of electric guitar and drums. 'Mother' from their last album “Future Doubt” offered the crowd something familiar whilst ending their set of music with 'Ready For Something', 'Doubt It' and 'There's A Light'.
The Amazons then paid tribute to Taylor Hawkins by singing a heartfelt and crowd-warming rendition of 'My Hero' and although lead man Matthew Thomson made it clear that he didn't know the Foo Fighters legend personally, we could feel the sorrow in both performance and his words.
Throughout their performance, we saw Dual portrait screens showing both the band and the audience with a red, blue, and orange light theme to which Lights strobed with the beat of the drum- clever. The guitar solos were AMAZING! Clear, direct, and engaging. The Amazons had a great interaction with the audience throughout their forty-minute, 8 track set.
During the interval, a giant Royal Blood QR code remained on the main screen whilst music from the Foo Fighters played throughout. The fans were singing, chanting and clapping in tribute.
At 9 pm Royal Blood took their stage with a blue futuristic light theme, opening with their
current single 'Typhoons'. Performing on a single round platform with lights around it, they then addressed the audience and said they dedicate the whole show to Taylor Hawkins tonight. We heard brilliant live vocals throughout as they played a set consisting of the tracks 'Boilermaker', 'Out', 'Come on Over', 'Trouble's Coming', 'Hook, Line & Sinker', Honeybrains, Little Monster (With extended drum solo and… more ), 'How Did We Get So Dark?', 'Blood Hands', 'Million and One', 'Limbo', 'Loose Change', 'Figure It Out'.
The changeover between tracks ruined the flow a little but it was necessary for the content of the show! Frontman, Mike Kerr was a work of art on the fx pedal playing both bass and electric guitar sounds - I was taught a thing or two! Ben Thatcher remained focussed and consistent on both the drums and symbols.
During 'Little Monster' we were given an extended drum solo with a backdrop of a photo of himself with Taylor Hawkins. The whole crowd roared in an applauded standing ovation. Throughout the performance, we saw drinks in the air as the duo ended their set with 'Figure It Out' as the whole area clapped in sync.
Of course, they gave us an encore! This consisted of a piano piece - 'All We Have Is Now' as torch lights lit up across the whole of the Arena. Next was 'Ten Tonne Skeleton' before ending the night with 'Out Of The Black'.
It was a great night of live music full of solidarity and love in the memory of Taylor Hawkins. A classic example of how music brings us all together when in time of pain, loss and grief. All acts were impeccable.