A Funky Awesome Concert Review: The Black Keys’ Two Man Wall of Sound
You might recognize the last name of today’s concert reviewer, since the writer happens to be my nephew, River. River is a 17 year old high school student who is carrying on the proud Moon tradition of loving anything with a good beat that you can dance to. We might look ridiculous doing it, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
By River Moon
Last night I had the privilege of seeing The Black Keys live in concert at The John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario. The night kicked off with the opening act; the eardrum-busting band Cage The Elephant who made more noise than actual music while the band stood stationary and singer Matthew Shultz constantly was crowd surfing and screaming. Shultz was one of the more interesting things about Cage The Elephant’s show; not for his singing but for how much he enjoyed his time on stage in front of such a large and forgivingly enthusiastic crowd. He was running, rolling, and screaming his way around the stage like an overly dramatic soccer player. CTE finally slowed and cooled down near the end playing a few of their hits: Back Against The Wall, Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, and the single Shake Me Down. Cage The Elephant’s show didn’t really work in The John Labatt Centre but they are a band whom I believe would be great in a much smaller venue where the crowd could get more into the show and their noise wouldn’t echo into a incomprehensible mess. I do like a few tracks off of Cage The Elephant’s albums, but they certainly didn’t impress me live.
Now onto The Black Keys part of the show. When the dynamic duo that is Akron, Ohio’s The Black Keys came out on stage, the audience erupted in anticipation. The crowd was obviously there to see the headliner and this band did not disappoint! They started it off with six lesser known songs that felt like a warm-up set with a bluesy, grungy kinda vibe such as one of their old songs, Thickfreakness. They also threw in their extremely soulful cover of The Kinks’ Act Nice and Gentle.
They were then joined by two extra band members playing keyboard and bass and proceeded to rock their way into their well known hit songs from old albums and most recent album Brothers. Out of the depths of the stage rose an enormous disco ball that reflected lasers and crazy lights that created quite a spectacle thus leading into their grooving hit Everlasting Light. Singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach’s voice in this song was incredible and had the audience looking for a hidden woman on stage who was singing for him. The change from the earlier songs to this was incredible showing everyone how far Auerbach could bend his voice. Next up was their song Next Girl that was filled with distorted guitar goodness and once again showing Auerbach’s talent on the mic. They moved onto their most recognized hits; Howlin’ For You, which showcased great guitar and drum solos and Tighten Up, featuring some awesome drumming on drummer Patrick Carney’s part. Although these are their most popular songs, the best was still to come. After another distorted guitar rock song, She’s Long Gone, came a gem that I hadn’t really caught my attention from their album Brothers called Ten Cent Pistol. This song was my favourite one of the night with Carney drumming out a rolling beat and Auerbach switching up the song from the studio version and completely rocking out.
They then moved onto the final stretch of their show where it was just the duo once again and reverted back to some older material. Yet to my disappointment, despite every effort by the band, they couldn’t get the crowd off their seats. Throughout the entire concert, anyone who decided to stand up was quickly forced back down by spectators who couldn’t see over them. This made it the weirdest concert I’ve ever been to. Never before had I sat down for a show and The Black Keys were definitely not a band you should be sitting down for. So when they were on their last song of the set and everyone decided now would be a good time to stand up, I felt the band was finally getting the recognition they deserved. The Black Keys then came out for a double encore playing Sinister Kid and Your Touch, both making the entire venue explode into a jumping, screaming mess. Altogether the show was absolutely amazing with Auerbach singing better than the studio versions of the songs and an incredible stage show with disco balls and strange shadow casting lights that added to the greatness that is The Black Keys. Their studio work got my attention but it was the live show that, in my mind, defines them.