ROYAL BLOOD / TIGERCUB, 26TH FEBRUARY 2014, OXFORD ART BAR
The problem with the recent crop of grunge revivalists is that they seem to have all of the signifiers but none of the substance. Tigercub are a case in point. Frontman Jamie Hall has the Cobain rasp, the Goo T-shirt and the curtain of hair to hide behind (not that it works very convincingly, given that he's about eight feet tall), but his band's material is as unremarkable and pedestrian as he is eager to express gratitude for the opportunity to go on tour. At least The Vines had a couple of songs.
Tigercub have been brought along for the ride from Brighton by headliners Royal Blood, who have in turn enjoyed the influential patronage of Arctic Monkeys - Alex Turner and company apparently not content with merely styling themselves on Queens Of The Stone Age but determined to find and champion other bands with similar aspirations. Given that the muted ... Like Clockwork suggested QOTSA had forgotten their way around a rock song, the chunky riffage of Royal Blood's recent single 'Little Monster' was very welcome indeed. Its predecessor, 'Out Of The Black', was an equally accomplished pastiche of Muse and Rage Against The Machine.
Unfortunately, tonight it transpires that 'Little Monster', casually lobbed into the middle of the too-short encore-less set, and closer 'Out Of The Black' tower over everything else in their repertoire like, well, Jamie Hall did over the front row. The rest - 'Hole', 'Figure It Out', 'Come On Over', 'Loose Change' - are little more than a blur of leaden-footed blues-metal.
Royal Blood having been deemed Ones To Watch In 2014, there's a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd present (here in Oxford we're nothing if not obedient) and in feeling disappointed I freely admit to being in a minority, perhaps of one. The hype has left the duo perched precariously on a pedestal, there to be shot at from grassy knolls (or the darkened corners of small gig venues) by snide snipers like myself - unfairly so, really. There's plenty of promise, but they need time and space to be able to develop and grow organically - time and space that, sadly, they're now unlikely to be granted.