Royal Blood make a pit stop at brand-new Ventura Music Hall on their ‘Typhoons’ tour to remind us rock ‘n’ roll is still alive & well

Royal BloodBy Josh Herwitt //

Royal Blood with cleopatrick //
Ventura Music Hall – Ventura, CA
May 4th, 2022 //

If you’re one of those people who thinks rock ‘n’ roll is on its way out, then you probably haven’t heard of Royal Blood before.

The English alt-rock duo comprised of Mike Kerr (lead vocals, bass, keyboards, piano, guitar) and sidekick Ben Thatcher (drums, percussion, piano) has been growing its fan base far outside the UK since forming more than a decade ago, so much so the two Brits have found themselves headlining larger venues “in the states” with each passing tour.

But the smallest room on Royal Blood’s 26-date North American trek that included five shows up and down California is no doubt the brand-new Ventura Music Hall, which hopes to be a legitimate pit stop for bands traveling from the Bay Area to Los Angeles and vice versa.

Opening its doors for the first time less than two months ago, the 635-person club has already hosted several notable acts across a range of genres — from the world sounds of Thievery Corporation to the punk rock of Flogging Molly and Bob Mould to the synthpop of Gary Numan and Hot Chip — while the addition of Royal Blood should only help build its credibility as one of the few spots to catch live music along the Central Coast. At half the size of the Ventura Theater, it offers a more intimate setting despite being mostly standing room with food available via local pop-up Ruff House BBQ and a massive ceiling fan to create a strong ventilation system (because we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic).

Ventura, furthermore, has been primed to have a new space for a while now. Home to outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia as well as a handful of top-notch craft breweries an hour north of LA and 30 minutes south of Santa Barbara, the once-sleepy beach town is often overlooked and could be something more than its past as other entertainment and dining options are introduced and established over time.

Royal Blood

Much of the same can be said for Royal Blood after they last performed stateside in 2018. Since then, they’ve managed to reinvent some of that big, bombastic sound we first heard them unleash on 2014’s self-titled debut LP and 2018’s How Did We Get So Dark? by churning out even catchier melodies and dance-forward backbeats for their third studio effort Typhoons, which dropped more than a year ago to predominantly favorable reviews.

There might be no better track on Typhoons that manifests the sonic evolution of Royal Blood than its disco-flavored lead single “Trouble’s Coming”, and considering that it was the first song written for the album based on what Kerr has said in interviews, I would be surprised if it doesn’t become a staple at the band’s shows in the future.

On this night and this tour, we were treated to a performance from Kerr and Thatcher that spanned all three of their full lengths and more. There was “Typhoons” fittingly to open and “Boilermaker” to follow, the latter of which being the Josh Homme-produced track that you could argue is one of Royal Blood’s most electrifying songs right now (I did after naming it my favorite song of 2021). It has a similar energy to “Lights Out” and that might be why the first single — and one of the real standouts — off HDWGSD? came right after in the setlist.

Multiple deep cuts such as “Hook, Line & Sinker”, “Blood Hands” and “Loose Change” were also played, but hearing Royal Blood’s newest single “Honeybrains” that they uncovered right before hitting the road this spring was particularly praiseworthy for a group that has moved beyond a bass guitar and drums to incorporate more keyboards in their latest studio material. If it wasn’t evident to the crowd quite yet, Kerr made it upon his return to the stage after a short set break, as he took a seat at the piano and belted out the Typhoons finale “All We Have Is Now” to kickstart a furious, three-song encore that ended with Royal Blood cuts “Ten Tonne Skeleton” and “Out of the Black” sending us home after 90 minutes of ear-rattling and headbanging euphoria.

What has always amazed me about Royal Blood is how full their music sounds despite only having two permanent members who would serve as most bands’ rhythm section. And although you would have to think that Kerr and Thatcher will eventually explore adding other instrumentation — if not more full-time staff with Darren James brought on last year to be their touring keyboardist — into the fold, the 11-track Typhoons has provided them with that step forward. Where they go from here remains anyone’s guess as they help carry the torch for rock ‘n’ roll in 2022, but with another album cycle under their belts soon, those prospects feel just as exciting as where they’ve already been.

Setlist:
Typhoons
Boilermaker
Lights Out
Come on Over
Trouble’s Coming
Hook, Line & Sinker
Honeybrains
Little Monster
How Did We Get So Dark?
Blood Hands
Million and One
Limbo
Loose Change
Figure It Out

Encore:
All We Have Is Now
Ten Tonne Skeleton
Out of the Black

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