The Black Keys, O2 Brixton Academy, London
Tuesday 09 November 2010
Encores aren't what they used to be, except at a Black Keys show. Once upon a time, an encore was reserved for bands who had impressed their fans so much that their crowd would demand them back. Now it's built into a set – whether it's wanted or not – and used by many to slip off home.
But that isn't so for The Black Keys. Expressions like "raise the roof" were made for the audience reaction to this Ohio two-piece, who left their fans screaming with adoration after a packed one-hour set bursting with anthemic blues-rock.
Finally reaping the rewards of a nine-year career and promoting their sixth album, Brothers, vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney create a sound far greater than would be thought possible for a duo. With a quick rock'n'roll aside ("Let's get it moving, alright?"), Auerbach slams straight into the set with the title track from their very first album, Thickfreakness, as bold banners displaying two fists clenched together drop from the ceiling above.
As the pair bash out the love song "The Breaks", they weave hints of an American journeyman's Southern country ballad with their signature storming riffs and haunting falsetto vocals. Their acclaimed new single, "Tighten Up", saved for the last leg, is received with one of the most deafening cheers of the night. Despite minor timing slips, the duo can do no wrong.
"We're so sorry we messed up all the Tubes," Auerbach says playfully in between numbers, referencing the Tube strike that would make getting home a struggle for much of the crowd. "We took over all the Tube stations and we're having a rave... " he trails off, before rambling something about taking ecstasy before arriving on stage. The banter may not be great, but it does tick all the rock boxes – and as almost no one disappears during the raging encore, it seems that The Black Keys are clearly worth the hassle.
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