REVIEW: Royal Blood brings thunder and ‘Typhoons’ to the Fox Theater
OAKLAND — U.K. alt-rockers Royal Blood returned to the Bay Area Tuesday for a concert at the Fox Theater. It was the band’s first appearance here since 2017 (at Outside Lands), and its biggest headlining Bay Area show since 2015, at Slims.
The duo of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher is on the road in support of its new album, the upbeat and groove-heavy Typhoons.
Strength in numbers has never been the name of the game for Royal Blood, usually recreating its album tracks with just singer-bassist Kerr and drummer Thatcher. Kerr’s unique style of bass playing has been well-documented, adding various effects and guitar pedals to add melodic quality to his deep low end.
On Tuesday, Royal Blood did have a bit of added support during the new songs with the addition of a keyboardist who also sang backup.
While the band’s set was heavy on Typhoons songs, it actually drew the most from its debut album. The two also threw in newer song “Honeybrains.” The performance included just a handful of tracks from the band’s sophomore effort, How Did We Get So Dark?
The stage offered up a minimalist yet impactful feeling, with rectangular strobes set behind and in front of Royal Blood (who were set evenly at the front of the stage), as well as vertical lights that shot up from the floor giving a cage-like appearance. Opening with the title track of its latest effort, the duo started with high energy and kept the momentum going throughout much of the set, mixing in upbeat rockers like “Boilermaker,” “Trouble’s Coming” and “Come On Over.”
The majority of the night was a mixture of powerful drumming and grungy bass riffs. However, the mood shifted toward the end of the set when the lights turned to neon and a purple spotlight highlighted the keys player during “Million and One” to add to the retro synthwave feel of the song.
Kerr kept the talking to a minimum except for when he addressed the crowd once.
“Thank you all for coming out and purchasing tickets,” he said. “None of this would be possible without you, and in case you couldn’t tell, we really like doing this. It’s pretty fun… And anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit.”
Opting for a breather after teasing the audience with an extended intro before a massive breakdown during “Loose Change” (which drew the only quasi mosh pit of the evening) Royal Blood walked offstage. After roadies had time to uncover an upright piano and reset Thatcher’s drumset, Kerr came back and sat down at the piano for an intimate encore of “All We Have Is Now.”
Afterward, Thatcher joined his bandmate on stage and the duo charged forward with “Ten Tonne Skeleton” and “Out of the Black,” at which point Thatcher jumped off the stage and maneuvered his way to the back of the audience, only to crowd-surf all the way back to the stage to end the song.
Canadian rockers cleopatrick opened the show. The self-proclaimed “Last Rock Band on Planet Earth,” composed of singer-guitarist Ian Fraser and drummer Luke Guntz, has certainly been influenced by their tour mates, also mixing in an aggressive two-instrument style of its own. While Guntz set up the rhythmic backbone for each song, Fraser played guitars with the same fury and intensity as a child rocking out in his garage for the first time.
Reporter Mike DeWald contributed to this report. Follow photographer Derek Tobias at Instagram.com/simmonstobias.