Royal Blood’s Earth-Shattering Reading Set Was A Bid For Next Year’s Headline Slot

Ben Thatcher cranks up an air raid siren front of stage; over by the stacks, Mike Kerr loads the heavy artillery. Squeals, feedback, bass riffs like they’ve put strings on Thor’s hammer – Royal Blood’s arsenal is mighty, but their morale shaken. “There’s not a single person in this field who truly understands how insane it is for us to be up here right now,” Mike admits, “there’s a lot of people. I think I just shit myself.” Ben, on the other hand, stands on his drum stool sipping nonchalantly from a pint of lager, surveying the crowd like a war-time field marshal who knows exactly how much of a firestorm is about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting village.

Ben, you see, knows full well that Royal Blood shouldn’t be concerned. They’re well on their way down the road to the headlining slot, rounding off the UK campaign for their deep impact debut album with this traditional third-in-line-to-the-crown main stage R&L slot. After two years of tearing apart every tent, Academy and award ceremony placed before them, they arrive in Reading dressed like half of a camp biker gang – metal roadie garb for Ben, flowery black jacket for Mike – but a well-drilled crowd-killing machine. Mike pounds out the opening QOTSA runs of ‘Come On Over’ one-handed. ‘You Can Be So Cruel’ has become so mammoth and bluesy it sounds like music an aircraft carrier might strip to, ‘Figure It Out’ has gained added motorbike revving noises and ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ has bulked out to become a blues Muse. Megalithic, duuuude.

As a band built largely on sounds made by a single bass guitar string, of course, there has been much conjecture over where they could take it for album two. Further into the heavysphere, it seems. Today’s one new song, ‘Hook, Line And Sinker’, may boast a standard White Stripes-like chorus about being “caught in the middle” but for the verses Mike seems to be trying to get an entire Metallica out of his one guitar. By the final ‘Out Of The Black’, adorned with a snippet of ‘Iron Man’, Reading is ruined and Royal Blood proudly prod at its twitching corpse; at the hell-noise climax Ben wanders casually out for a quick crowd-surf while Mike stands as still as a doped rock slave awaiting his drummer’s signal to unleash the closing wave of riff napalm. Their message? If they’re not headlining yet, they’ll wreck the place for anybody else…