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Words by James Lavel

Monday night UK 2-peice Royal Blood graced our shores once again and Brisbane came to life at Fortitude Music Hall. You could have been forgiven thinking it was still the weekend as there was no hesitation from punters filling the hall early. By the time doors opened there was already a healthy crowd patiently awaiting the start of tonight’s entertainment. Fortitude Music Hall boasts a terrific stage, high enough that even the shortest of humans can get a good view with a room full of people. The stage was packed with gear; a huge drum riser with a sheet covering Ben Thatcher’s monstrous kit took up the whole left half the stage, while amps and guitars littered the right. 

Punters did not have to wait long as Sydney’s The Buoys took the stage shortly after doors opened. Courtney Cunningham’s gritty/fuzzy/synthy bass tone reverberated around the room with Zoe Catterall & Hilary Geddes Strat and Tele combo completing that distinctive indie rock twang. This band was certainly the right fit to start the night. Catchy riffs and chill vibes, the kind of upbeat surf rock soundtrack for sepia tone sunsets and drives along the beach. Hilary Geddes was a real standout with tasteful lead breaks and effortless playing. It was a little disappointing to see drummer Tess Wilkin stuck at the back behind a mountain of gear, but Tess was doing a bang-up job keeping the songs moving and grooving. Towards the end of their set Zoe changed guitars while Hilary and Courtney built a beautiful atmospheric vibe before kicking into some more tracks that had the crowd clapping and swaying along. At last Tess emerged from behind the kit and kept everyone grooving with some tasteful hits on the tambourine. They finished their set with duelling guitars and bass fuzz that shook the room. The Buoys are certainly making some waves in the scene, they have already played a plethora of impressive shows with the likes of DZ Deathrays, Violent Soho and Eliza & The Delusionals. If upbeat indie rock is your vibe, they are certainly one to check out.

Not long after the first set it was time for Psychedelic Porn Crumpets to start and the crowd was buzzing. They walked on to a roar from the room and kicked straight into it, whipping the room into a sea of movement. Behind Jack McEwan’s long curls streamed album perfect vocals. They played their latest offering Nootmare (K.I.L.L.I.n.G) [Meow!] off their latest record ‘Fronzoli’. The room quickly tightened as everyone was swept up in the riffs and lunacy on stage. Guitarist Chris Young swung back and forward during the track manically slamming keys with his left-hand and guitar in his right. Luke Parish jumped around on stage seamlessly waving samples between songs and whipping out slick riffs effortlessly. The guys moved through songs such as Cubensis Lenses and Bill’s Mandolin that had me in awe of the ability of Wayan Biliondana and Peter Coyne in the rhythm section. The whole band is perfectly curated chaos with harmonies that breed between your ears, an absolute pleasure to experience. The appropriate level of excitement washed over the room when the first notes of Cornflake played out. Shout out to the sound guys that managed to keep a consistently fantastic sound with such a sonic onslaught taking place. The room was alive with an orchestra of clapping hands supporting the sounds of the PA. It was a criminally short set being a Monday night, however no one was left disappointed.  Psychedelic Porn Crumpets were on fire. 

The stage is cleared of nearly every piece of equipment, leaving only the monstrous drum kit, a pedal board and a keyboard in the corner. While the crew worked at lighting speed on stage, a beachball bounced from one side of the crowd to the other with whoops and cheers every time it made it to the second story.  There was barely a foothold of space left in the room by the time Royal Blood took the stage.  

The lights dimmed and the theme for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly played through the PA. Ben Thatcher emerged from left of stage and took a seat behind the kit. Mike Kerr followed in a very UK rock n roll look: leather jacket, sunglasses, the lot. Stage lights and smoke billowed across the stage as Mike grabbed his instrument and created some atmosphere. With a 4 count from Ben the lights pulsed in time with the duo’s massive hit Out of the Black. Naturally everyone lost their minds hearing such a big hit straight off the bat. The sound was huge. You would be forgiven thinking a full 5-piece band was on stage with the amount of power behind every note. As they reached the end of the song Ben walked to the front of the stage and demanded the crowd part as he jumped in to join them watch Mike rip it up on stage solo. Ben returned to the stage and they jammed out the last of the track. They moved straight into Mountains at Midnight keeping up the momentum.  

One of the most impressive things about watching a band of this stature is how they present the stage show. Royal Blood took a very minimalistic approach with floor lights skirting the stage that provided reflections across the stage floor. I was in awe of how they managed to fill such a large space with just two guys and a handful of lights. Moving into Come on Over the singalong was in full force, Mike leaving verses to the room full of singing fans. Ben expertly manned his impressive drum kit making sure every hit was felt.  Mike has one of the most unique instrument setups I have ever seen. He plays a bass through a multitude of pedals and pickups to achieve both screaming guitar tones and thunderous bass tones while switching between the two with a flick of his foot. Technical impressiveness aside these two are also very solid song writers. They had the entire hall eating out of their hands the entire night. 

Boilermaker is next followed by Lights Out. Ben stood up on his drum stool and demanded a circle pit that naturally he got (well more of a jovial circle skip).  Shiner in the Dark and Supermodel Avalanches a (B-side) track from their album ‘Back To The Water Below’ were next. Mike took a moment to thank everyone for coming out and spoke of how appreciative he is of everyone’s support. He spoke of the pandemic and how they thought live music would never return, “so we wrote a disco album, here’s what that sounds like”. The lights changed to the tell-tale disco pink and purple pulse as they began Trouble’s Coming then moving into Typhoons

The keyboard now manned, they play Pull Me Through and One Trick Pony, before the singalong and jovial circle skip returned with Little Monster. At the end of the song Mike leaves Ben alone on stage as he kicks off an impressive drum solo. Mike eventually returns and you could feel the bass before you heard it as they started How Did We Get So Dark? and Tell Me When It’s Too Late before their “final” song Loose Change. The half-time section of this song captivated the whole crowd as Ben stood on his stool whipping up a frenzy of excitement before leaving the stage, and the crowd aching for an encore. 

Naturally they return after a couple of minutes, but they are not alone. Chris Young of Psychedelic Porn Crumpets joins them for Waves. The lights in this song were absolutely mesmerising, turning the entire hall into a rippling sea. Second last song they played was Ten Tonne Skeleton and then to no one’s surprise the massive hit Figure It Out to close the night. The lads take a bow and thank Brisbane one more time before leaving the stage. 

Royal Blood are currently making their way around the county, with tickets still available make sure you snatch one up. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. 

A huge thanks to Frontier Touring for having us. 

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