Royal Blood – review

Bermuda Triangle, Brighton
Royal Blood's 40-minute set was the perfect length – any longer, and this rumbling rock duo might have crumbled the masonry

Bermuda Triangle, a venue so small it's almost literally a hole in the wall, is lined with posters for a new night called Beard Club.

Coincidentally or not, the furry character on the poster is a dead ringer for Royal Blood singer/bassist Mike Kerr, whose facial hair assertively merges with the springy mop on his head. Baseball-capped drummer Ben Thatcher is similarly endowed. The look is classic American truckstop, yet Royal Blood are as British as their well-modulated Sussex accents and their Led Zep-indebted sound.

Of the acts on the recently announced BBC Sound of 2014 list, this duo may be the hardest to pigeonhole. They're getting daytime Radio 1 play, but stick out like hairy trespassers amid the singer-songwriters and electronic acts. There's only one single so far – Out of the Black, which is tonight's juddering, screeching finale – but they've acquired a coterie of influential fans, such as Arctic Monkey Matt Helders (they'll be supporting the Monkeys in Finsbury Park in May). Both bands operate in the stoner/blues ballpark, but Royal Blood have the edge when it comes to sheer primal whomp. Their seven-song set barely fills 40 minutes, but that's about the right length: any more and the masonry might start to crumble.

Kerr plays guitar riffs on his bass and sings in a stray-cat moan – Robert Plant and Jack White are obvious influences – while Thatcher is of the John Bonham school of pounding one's kit into the ground. There are amps and pedals galore; in this narrow room, it's like being grumbled at by a freight train. That's the gist of it, but it's tempered with subtleties, such as the ribbons of melody that run through every song, and the lyrics' romanticism. "I wanna kiss you," Kerr yowls on Love and Leave it Alone – and who would decline a kiss from a future star with such impressive facial fur?

• Did you catch this gig – or any other recently? Tell us about it using #Iwasthere


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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