Review: The Black Keys at Bojangles’ Coliseum
The Black Keys ended the first leg of its 2012 NorthAmerican tour with a sold out concert at Bojangles? Coliseum Saturday. Tickets soldout well in advance for the band who – thanks to a slew of commercial and TVplacements, word of mouth, and a decade of diligence – has brought funky,soulful blues-rock to the mainstream. Ever since the Black Keys opened forKings of Leon in September 2010 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – arguablystealing the show (the crowd response alone tipped in the Keys? favor) – theOhio-based combo has been due for a Charlotte headlining gig.
A black clad Arctic Monkeys – the British rock quartet whorocketed to fame in the UK in 2006 but are still chasing household-name statusstateside – opened the show with a solid set that showcased front man Alex Turner?scharisma and chops.
The Black Keys approached from the shadows of the largewhite screens that flanked the stage. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney wereplaced side by side at stage front while touring musicians Gus Seyffert andJohn Wood hung in back providing bass, keys and guitar. It launched into ?Howlin?For You? followed with ?Next Girl,? both from 2010?s breakout album ?Brothers.?
Carney?s drums popped with jarring clarity on ?Run Right Back.? In fact, asidefrom the expected distortion the sound was loud and fairly clear especiallycompared to Bruce Springsteen?s 17-piece band playing the similarly laid outGreensboro Coliseum earlier this week where all the instruments and backing vocalscould get muddled. The Black Keys played it straight and simple from the bandmakeup to the minimal videos and lighting (although I heard that the sound onthe floor wasn?t as clear).
After renditions of ?Same Old Thing,? ?Dead and Gone,? and ?Goldon the Ceiling? Seyffert and Wood disappeared backstage leaving Carney andAuerbach in their original duo form. The crowd went wild for older songs like aloose, jammy version of 2006?s ?Girl is on My Mind,? which seemed more like ablues spiritual than the frustrated `60s garage-rock original. It also hit on 2002?s?I?ll Be Your Man,? a slice of classic-sounding soul, and 2006?s ?Your Touch,?which had thousands bouncing, fists pumping in the air.
With the rest of the band back the slower, `60s-feeling ?LittleBlack Submarines? with its ?broken heart is blind? refrain served as thebiggest sing-along – the Black Keys? power ballad of sorts. ?Money Maker,? ?StrangeTimes,? ?Chop and Change,? ?Nova Baby,? and ?Ten Cent Pistol? followed beforethe capper of ?Tighten Up? and the danceable ?Lonely Boy.? The latter – the lead track from its latest album “El Camino” – receivedthe biggest response since the duo set. It had the entire building pulsing asthe group whipped through it.
Auerbach and Carney returned to the stage for a three song encore. Not sinceJon Spencer Blues Explosion has a rock band worked such a funky, sexual grooveas the one in ?I Got Mine,? its final song. But the Black Keys are less showmenand hypemen (compared to Spencer?s over-the-top stage persona) and more soul men.There was little schtick just pure rock n? roll, simple instrumentation, and straightforward performances from marvelous players that can completely ravage theirinstruments while making such flowery playing look easy and relaxed.
As ?I Got Mine? came to a close the band?s name dropped fromthe ceiling in flashing lights. The flashing sign, the enormous disco ballswhich were also saved for the finale, and the light trees that flanked theband, were the only props throughout the show. Those worked because they weresimple and matched the band?s aesthetic. Like the Foo Fighters, the Black Keys serveas a reminder that a good rock band doesn?t need to provide an onstage circusto rock.
Emma Heming Emma Stone Emma Watson