The Black Keys brought their brand of devil rock and roll to a sell-out crowd at the Mother Church of country music Thursday night. With a live show one part delta blues, one part tent revival, and two parts hell on wheels rock, The Black Keys were welcomed with open arms by the Ryman Auditorium crowd.
The Black Keys live show is impressive, if only for its understated power. The general consensus in the room was that a lot of sound was coming from the two guys on stage, with nothing more than a Marshall stack and a Ringo Starr drum kit.
Once the huge banner behind the stage unfurled with their salute to brotherhood, Thundercats, communism, tires and the city of Akron, the energy level hit high and didn’t let down. Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/wildman Patrick Carney kicked off the show with 2003 jam Thickfreakness. From the first strains of feedback the blues came pouring. Stack Shot Billy was particularly well appreciated by the Ryman faithful.
The Black Keys are at their best when doing what they do, being two guys from Akron unleashing a wall of sound. The Keys brought out an additional bass player and keyboard for some songs of their latest album, Brothers. While the songs are undeniably great and there were flashes of brilliance (particularly the segue from The Everlasting Light into Next Girl), but I felt that something was lacking with these interlopers on stage. It was still great, just not as great.
The Keys brought it back around when they launched into the final section of their set. The two extraneous musicians left the stage for Ten Cent Pistol, also off Brothers, and the band found their voice again. As they launched into I Got Mine, the crowd tried to stomp through the floor, Patrick Carney alternated between atomic metronome and all out banshee, and Dan Auerbach played the hell out of some blues guitar. Not a perfect night of music, but pretty damn good for a Thursday.
The hipsters were appeased . . . for now.