Royal Blood Bell Stage, Quebec City QC, July 11

Royal Blood Bell Stage, Quebec City QC, July 11
Photo: Shane Parent
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One of the benefits of playing Festival d'été's Bell Stage is the majority of artists end up performing to some of the biggest audiences of their career. Such was the case with Brighton-bred hard rock duo Royal Blood, whose bassist and frontman, Mike Kerr, commented on that very fact through a jumble of misplaced words while his drummer, Ben Thatcher, stared on silently at the massive and expanding crowd while wearing a truly grotesque Celine Dion t-shirt (clearly a humorous homage to the country and province in which they were playing).
 
Currently on tour opening for the Foo Fighters, it only took a few songs to realize why they'd been selected by the stadium rock all-stars: theirs is a music truly inspired by rock's revival in the early aughts. Kerr doesn't quite have the swagger yet of someone like Josh Homme or Jack White (although his hips at times proved he's getting there), but his two-man band acted unabashedly rock'n'roll during their hour-long performance, digging into the steady, blues-y grooves of their self-titled debut without fear of the thousands upon thousands of people around them.
 
This is a band that needs to be seen live. Unless your name is Death From Above 1979, it's hard to pull off just drums and bass guitar on an album. Live, Royal Blood are a different beast, galloping their way through gruff layers of distortion and bullwhip beats.
 
At times, Kerr's adlibbed banter veered towards the absurd, like when he finally noticed the imposing grey squalls behind the crowd and remarked, "First you see the lightning, and then you hear the thunder," before jumping into another midtempo rock tune. It was pretty silly, but we'll just chalk that up to a band's brains being fried from playing the biggest show of their lives.