Royal Republic | Electric Ballroom | 2 March 2016
“Four Swedes walk into a room…” sounds like the setup to a really bad joke, especially when one of them’s wearing a Colonel Sanders bowtie. But saving rock ‘n roll is serious business and Royal Republic waste no time getting down to it.
As they rip into ‘When I See You Dance With Another’ it’s immediately obvious there’s a lot more to the Malmö quartet than that old “three chords and the truth” business. Sure, their snappy, no-nonsense songs are so instantly gratifying that, within 30 seconds, you’re shouting along with all the finesse of a lager-fuelled football supporter. Yes, they deliver those foot-stomping hooks and fist-pumping choruses with such power and precision that you can almost smell the testosterone wafting off the stage. But what really sets these men apart is a self-confident swagger and look-at-me charisma that won’t let you look away.
And that’s exactly what happens tonight. Over the course of 30 minutes, frontman Adam Grahn, guitarist Hannes Irengård, bassist Jonas Almén, and drummer Per Andreasson win over close on 1000 people waiting for Theory of a Deadman — one Elvis rock star pose, offbeat audience interaction, and good-time party anthem at a time.
‘Walk!’, like much of tonight’s set taken from new album ‘Weekend Man’, is played with such enthusiasm it should be retitled ‘Run!’. The ball-busting ‘Make Love Not War (If You Have To Make War – Be Sure To Make Time To Make Love In Between)’ doesn’t just allow the band to show off their quirky sense of humour, but gives Grahn the platform to educate a punter on breakup lines.
He introduces ‘People Say That I’m Over The Top’ as “a particular favourite — it’s all about me” before ski-accident survivor Almén launches into yet another killer bassline and the singer transforms his voice into an unexpected growl. ‘Baby’ hits even harder as Grahn and Irengård team up for a twin-guitar, twin-vocal attack and ‘Kung Fu Lovin’’ really follows through on its promise to deliver a roundhouse kick to the heart.
At this point, not even an uncooperative guitar can stop Royal Republic’s momentum and, shifted into hyperdrive by Andreasson’s flailing arms, ‘Full Steam Spacemachine’ has Grahn conducting the crowd with his hands, or strutting across the stage as if he owns London. And, for those four minutes, he does.