Concert Review: The Black Keys @ Alexandra Palace, London, England
The Akron, Ohio boys – the Black Keys (not Lebron James, also from Akron) – capped off their 3rd and final sold out show at the lovely Alexandra Palace in London last night. This was also their final night in the UK, and they said that they would have to make sure it was an extra special show. I love it when a band panders to me – I’m such a sucker for that stuff.
Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/Pointless co-host lookalike Patrick Carney are about to headline an arena tour of North America, with British heavyweights, Arctic Monkeys, opening for them. Before they do that, they had to put on that extra special show they promised me.
The duo hopped on stage around 9:20pm, bring 2 backing musicians with them. I don’t know how I would feel if I were the touring musicians. You’re playing with the Black Keys, which is pretty fuckin’ rad. But during the verses, the lights shine on Dan and Patrick, and you’re an afterthought in the darkness, even though you’re contributing to a significant part of what the crowd is listening to. Maybe my years of neglect from the cool crowds is why I relate to the backing musicians.
The band opened with popular single, Howlin’ for You, off of their commercial breakthrough album, Brothers. They followed it up with another single from Brothers, Next Girl. The stage at the Ally Pally consisted of 4 small video screens, with large, photo shoot-style light fixtures, and was as the standard normal multi-coloured lights.
The band broke into their first song off of new album, El Camino, the first of 7 tracks they would play from that album. The guitar riff sounds just as epic live as it does on the album. Dan’s vocals are also true to the albums – no studio magic there.
After playing new single, Gold on the Ceiling, Dan announced that they would be playing a couple on their own. The songs that followed were the garage rock, bluesy songs from their earlier albums. Essentially, the complexity of the early albums of the Black Keys were such that 2 people could play the songs and the music would more or less sound complete (and awesome). Once super producer Danger Mouse was brought into the fold on their 5th album, the band’s sound expanded, adding new instruments and layers, but also requiring more than just The Black Keys to play the songs.
The band used this segment to play one song off of each of their first 4 albums. I’ll Be Your Man, from The Big Come Up; Thickfreakness, from Thickfreakness; Girl is on my Mind, from Rubber Factory; and Your Touch, from Magic Potion. Your Touch saw Dan mix things up a little bit, playing some extenuated staccato guitar notes, and ad libbing some fun guitar riffs throughout the song.
Perhaps one surprise to the setlist was Chop and Change, a song from the Eclipse soundtrack, from those god awful Twilight movies. The crowd seemed a little lost during this one, unsure if it was a cover song, or an obscure older track. It’s good to know that the Twilight and Black Keys fan bases are mutually exclusive.
At 10:30, the band closed out their regular set with Lonely Boy, which sadly did not see renditions of the dancing man from the video imitated throughout the crowd. Dan and Patrick returned with a 3 song encore, opening with Everlasting Light. Impressively, Dan Auerbach song the falsetto quite well, considering it was the 19th song of the night, at the end of their tour on this side of the pond. A disco ball also descended, neatly illuminating the inside of the Ally Pally.
The last song the lads played was I Got Mine, and was played by just the two of them. The two Ohio boys have come a long way in the past few years. They didn’t say too much, instead letting their music do the talking. Their unique sound that has finally found the large audience it deserves, and their music will continue to talk, but soon to stadiums worldwide.
PHM Rating: 9.0 out of 10
Setlist for The Black Keys @ Alexandra Palace, London, England – February 11, 2012
1 – Howlin’ for You
2 – Next Girl
3 – Run Right Back
4 – Same Old Thing
5 – Dead and Gone
6 – Gold on the Ceiling
7 – Thickfreakness
8 – Girl is on my Mind
9 – I’ll Be Your Man
10 – Your Touch
11 – Little Black Submarines
12 – Money Maker
13 – Strange Times
14 – Chop and Change
15 – Nova Baby
16 – Ten Cent Pistol
17 – Tighten Up
18 – Lonely Boy
19 – Everlasting Light
20 – She’s Long Gone
21 – I Got Mine