The Black Keys, Nottingham Capital FM Arena
Describing his influences, Pat Carney of The Black Keys once told me he liked "drummers who look like they're only thinking of killing the drumkit", citing Black Sabbath's Bill Ward and Led Zeppelin's John Bonham as prime examples.
He's learnt well: Carney himself seems hellbent on murdering his kit at the band's Nottingham show, assailing it with sticks the size of saplings while his partner Dan Auerbach darts about the other side of the stage, wrestling dramatic riffs from a succession of guitars.
Yet it would be wrong to mistake their dynamic muscularity for crudeness: Carney's beats are subtly sculptured to carry the songs as nimbly as possible, with particularly interesting bass-drum and floor-tom combinations, while Auerbach's guitar lines tug one's interest in the most intriguing of directions, via a striking breadth of tones and timbres. He's the first guitarist I've seen in ages - in an arena band, at least - to still employ a curly lead, rather than the usual wireless box. This seems to be a split lead, serving the three different amplifiers positioned like slices of toast in a toast-rack, allowing the sound engineer to mix specific blends for each song: this may be burly blues-rock, but it's by no means simplistic stuff. That much is implied by their road crew being outfitted in suits and ties, a nice ironic contradiction of the lumpen nature of arena rock shows.
The broader variety of sounds on the duo's recent albums has necessitated two more players behind Carney and Auerbach, adding bass, keyboards and sometimes two extra guitar parts, to replicate the interlocking riffs that make songs like "Run Right Back" and "Lonely Boy" so infectious. Each part is honed for maximum potency with minimum extravagance, a strategy that has enabled them to disinter that most dismissed of styles, the lolloping Glitterbeat boogie, for tracks such as "Howlin' For You" and the irresistible "Gold On The Ceiling".
The most underrated aspect of the band, however, is Auerbach's singing, his nonchalant blues deadpan lending character to each song, from the yearning wail of "Money Maker" to the weird falsetto of "Everlasting Light". His most haunting performance is surely the unearthly recounting of homicidal revenge in "Ten Cent Pistol", harnessed to a slinky, shifting arrangement as secretively predatory as the song's events. But it's the more crunching appeal of riffs like "Lonely Boy" that have the capacity crowd rocking madly, a tight mass of bodies punching the air with a gleeful assertion that, contrary to the impression given by telly talent shows, rock'n'roll is alive and thriving in the English heartland.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Arts & Ents blogs
Heavy rain and years of 'benign neglect' may have caused Apollo Theatre roof collapse
Christmas TV guide 2013: Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber isn't retiring from music after all
The Harry Hill Movie, film review: Screenplay isn't so much offbeat as utterly feeble
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 Tim Sherwood challenges Daniel Levy to set out vision for Tottenham Hotspur’s future
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 5 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- < Previous
- Next >