I wouldn’t stop movin’ if I could stop movin’
That lyric is taken from a song that I thought was purely a joke when I first heard it, but in the live setting it becomes an incredibly apt appraisal of both the show you’re getting and the vibe in the room whilst seeing it. But more on Royal Republic in a little bit.
I’d like to start with a quick mention of support act, Blackout Problems. Supporting one of the best live bands on the planet (yes, I genuinely mean that with every atom of my being) is no easy job, but I think Blackout Problems saw it as a challenge they wanted to give their all. I won’t say I enjoyed all of their set, in fact I’d say I wasn’t convinced at all for the first 20 minutes of their 45 minute set – a period in which the frontman had already been in the crowd twice, the second time of which he went all the way to the back of the venue whilst still singing the song.
But the second half of their set? Yeah. They won me over. It’s difficult to put a pin on their sound – as a live presence they reminded me of a band like Don Broco, but sound wise they are perhaps closest to a band like Young Guns. The charisma that oozed from the band throughout, whilst perhaps feeling a bit forced during the early parts of the set, started to feel very genuine by the end. And I really do think they had some good songs under their belt, the last song of the set (which I unfortunately could not find after 20 minutes of searching) especially got me going with an Industrial sound you’d expect more from the likes of Nine Inch Nails.
Tonight, however, belonged to Royal Republic. There’s not many a band on this planet that I genuinely believe could play before – or even after – RR and come away the best band of the day. There’s just something so infectious about them, some kind of twinkle in the eye that just brings everything together. Royal Republic have great Rock songs. Royal Republic have a great live show. Royal Republic have a cheeky, at times cocky, confidence and bravado to them which elevates both the aforementioned songs and live show to stratospheric heights. It’s genuinely difficult to put into words just how good of a band they are without coming off as some kind of over-the-top hype-man for the band (and by the way, if that job is available, I will gladly take it!). Royal Republic, in explanation alone, do not sound or look like a band that’s necessarily worth paying attention to, because there are no words to do them justice without sounding disingenuous. Royal Republic are a band that need to be seen to be believed.
The first time I ever saw Royal Republic, they walked out on stage in a support slot at this very venue for the band Theory of a Deadman (a band who were so upstaged on the night that I’ve never even remotely considered seeing them again since). I turned to my friend as they stood valiantly waiting for their intro-track to finish, and exclaimed ‘this is either going to be really good or really shit’. Within seconds of the start of their first song, I knew it was gonna be the former. This was my fifth time seeing them, and the moment they step on stage and start playing still fills me with that same exhilaration that the first time did. Touring in support of their new album, Club Majesty, this was a show fully built around the songs from that album, but the reality is the setlist just doesn’t matter all that much. The songs are almost incidental for this band – sure, you may want your favourites to be played, but even if they aren’t, you’re never gonna feel short-changed. I’ll hold my hands up, whilst I enjoyed Club Majesty when it arrived earlier this year, I wasn’t so sure its more Disco-tinged sound was gonna work as well live. I was completely wrong. 9 songs of the 11 from the album filled an 18 song setlist (50% of the show, Maths fans!) and even the ones I’m not as keen on felt like highlights. Most importantly though, these new songs sit alongside tracks from the previous 3 albums brilliantly, with not a single song leaving me feeling like ‘yeah, I could have done without that one’.
As I sit writing this review the following day, I’m incredibly sore. There was a lot of jumping, and on the songs I didn’t bounce through I was still moving constantly. My neck and back are stiff from the motion. But let me be clear, this wasn’t from moshing. There were areas for moshing, make no mistake, but mostly this was a packed Electric Ballroom all dancing and jumping in unison. People of all ages were there for a great time, and that’s what they were given. A woman who looked to be in her 40s who had been standing next to me during the show (and had been fully losing herself in the music and dancing, I might add) tapped me on the shoulder afterwards and told me she’d never listened to the band before the show, but had learned all of the lyrics from me!
To sum up, no matter how positive my words here have been, they will have done no justice to the show you get from Royal Republic. All I can say to you is that if you get the chance to go and see them, you need to do so. No ifs, ands or buts. It’s a show that just allows you to release whatever’s been dragging you down and forget about it all for a night, and honestly, I’ve woken up feeling so much better about life today because of it.
Basically, I’ll see you down the front at their next London show, yeah?
By Matt Dobbie