Show Review

The Black Keys

Live from Riverbend

Brian Ahnmark
A little home field advantage goes a long way.

The Black Keys technically opened for King of Leon last Saturday at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center, but the reception for the Akron, OH duo was befitting of a headlining act. The Keys responded in kind with a blistering – if understandably abbreviated – set, culling heavily from their 2010 breakthrough record Brothers.

As if to salute their Ohio roots, guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney opened with “I’ll Be Your Man” from their debut album The Big Come Up. The song’s declaration of faith rang true, a promise of loyalty from band to fans. From there, the boys launched into a searing rendition of under-the-radar classic “10 AM Automatic.” These throwback tunes were a treat, but in truth, the Keys’ most recent two records – Brothers and 2008’s Attack and Release – have truly put them on the popular music map.

And it showed: The new material garnered the warmest reception of all.

The Keys delivered seven straight songs from the Brothers sessions, including non-album track “Chop and Change,” which appeared on “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” soundtrack. Raised eyebrows regarding the target audience aside, Auerbach and Carney visibly fed off the energy from the boisterous crowd. Dan’s jet engine guitar buzz easily filled the amphitheater, even when he raised his right fist in the air and carved meaty riffs with his left hand alone. Not to be outdone, Patrick put a little extra muscle behind his ritualistic bludgeoning of the drumkit.

In a first for the band, the founding Keys have been joined onstage this tour by bassist Nick Movshon and keyboardist Leon Michels to flesh out the Brothers material. To be blunt, the additional musicians contributed precisely nothing to the mix; the sheer volume and weight of The Black Keys Proper requires no accompaniment.

The palpable electricity in the brisk river air peaked with the closing couplet of “Your Touch” and “I Got Mine.” Dan led the way on the former, nimbly picking the opening melody and slashing the guts out of the midsection with savage solos, weaved seamlessly around the hook. Patrick took the reins for the latter, punishing his floor tom in an ominous war march as Dan crouched before an amplifier, summoning his feedback army for attack.

And as Auerbach belted out the refrain - “I got mine!” - it felt like a fitting self-coronation.

I’ll Be Your Man
10 AM Automatic
Strange Times
Everlasting Light
Next Girl
Chop and Change
Howlin’ For You
Tighten Up
She’s Long Gone
Ten Cent Pistol
Your Touch
I Got Mine