Gig Review: The Black Keys At The Forum

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

No one does arena rock better than The Black Keys do.

I first saw The Black Keys rock out a headline slot at Hangout Festival in May to over 25,000 people, so naturally my expectations for their own show were high. On Thursday night, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney met all those expectations and more as they delivered a stellar performance to 17,000 boisterous fans at The Forum. The Ohio natives played in support of their eighth album, “Turn Blue,” but the concert was anything but blue.

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

Taking the stage after the prodigious Jake Bugg, The Black Keys kicked off the show with “Dead and Gone,” “Next Girl” and “Gold On The Ceiling.” As soon as Auerbach slid into his first guitar solo, the crowd went crazy. Teasing fans left and right, Auerbach often left his mic stand center stage and strolled to the edge to the stage, holding and playing his guitar to fans like a warrior riling up his army for battle.

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

Though it was a tour for their lastest effort, The Black Keys fit ample old favorites into the setlist. Auerbach and Carney played through a slew of old hits like “Howlin’ For You” and “Money Maker,” but the best among the oldies was “Tighten Up,” when Auerbach jammed to a spell binding, psychedelic riff in front of the LA crowd midsong. Banter was minimal, but these signature Auerbach riffs made the enormous arena feel like a gritty rock club.

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

Starting with “Fever,” Auerbach got the crowd to sing along to the last third of their set. With purposefully indecipherable projection screens and a spinning blue and pink optical illusion disk spinning atop the band, The Black Keys hypnotically introduced friendly frenzy as they plowed through the last songs of the set, which included their radio hit, “Lonely Boy.”

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

After the duo said the temporary goodbyes and the arena darkened, the crowd pulled out their ‘lighters’ (well, cell phones), and cheered and screamed until the Ohio duo returned to the stage for an epic encore. The encore started slow with “Weight of Love,” and progressively moved into a second, hazy jam, “Turn Blue.”

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

Following the penultimate tune, the spotlight focused on a sentimental and grateful Auerbach, who thanked Los Angeles fans for coming out before starting a memorable acoustic riff that was easily identifiable as the beginning of the crowd favorite, “Little Black Submarines.” Auerbach strolled to the front of the stage and led the crowd in singing the chorus to the tune (“‘Oh can it be, the voices calling me, they get lost, and out of time…'”) before the stage lights lit up and Carney slowly transitioned into the song. This slow burner of a song, which sent chills down my and many others’ spines, closed the show on an epic note. After Auerbach switched his acoustic number for an electric, he gave it his all and jammed out to the crowd while Carney quickened his rhythm in syncopation.

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

Dipping in and out of reverbed riffs and note-bending twangs, Auerbach took their music to another level and proved that The Black Keys have more than enough talent to play sold out crowds and sustain a formidably long and successful career. When the energy dipped slightly, Auerbach and Carney instantly picked it back up–it’s no surprise that the duo continues to dominate festival bills and sell out large arenas all over the world.

Photo: Joyce Lee

Photo: Joyce Lee

Jake Bugg /Photo: Joyce Lee

Jake Bugg /Photo: Joyce Lee

Originally posted here.

-J

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