Lonely Boys Meet in the City – Black Keys Concert Review

Jon-Paul Kreatsoula, Contributing Writer


It was around 7:46pm on Mon- day, March 19, when Arctic Mon- keys lead singer Alex Turner used both hands to slick back the sides of his James Dean hair cut and articulated how good it felt to be playing in “Chi-town” – emphasis on the “Chi” with a full blooded English

accent. Tunes were blazed through, old favorites as well as highlighted ones from Arctic Monkeys’ newest record Suck It and See. The Mon- keys have headlined and appeared at several festivals including Lollapalooza, Glastonbury and T in the Park, as well as toured countryside to countryside to promote records throughout the years. This is all well and good, but this night belonged to The Black Keys.

The Black Keys are on a North American arena tour to promote their latest LP El Camino, which was almost completely packed. The general admission standing room was full up with a sea of bodies and if you kept your eyes on their movements, you could feel them slowly crawling up the sides of the massive structure and notice that the 200 and even 300 level seating of the United Center were almost at full capacity.

Before Dan Auerbach (vocals/guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums) humbly toed across the stage to don a strapped Harmony guitar and to sit on the throne of a sparkled rainbow Ludwig drum kit, their touring manager came out with bleeding gratification on his tongue and said a few words to the effect of The Black Keys had never dreamt of performing in the same stadium as such legendary bands as U2 or The Rolling Stones, and that it was an honor to play in front of a crowd this size. These were kind words indeed, but as soon as Auerbach gazed over the nearly sold out stadium, a smile stretched from ear

to ear as he spoke into the micro- phone: “Let’s get this thing started”, the Akron, Ohio native exclaimed as the thunderous Carney counted off the duo into their hour and half long set. Opening with a single from their previous record, Brothers, “Howlin’ For You” set the tone for the evening as screaming fans yearned for dirty bluesy garage-y tracks one right after the other.

Throughout the course of the evening, the music that flowed jaggedly through the air’s stench of sweat and stale pot smoke lingered predominantly within the grooves of Brothers and El Camino, of course. These two powerful records that were put out within a year of each other induce a sort of rump and stump nodding to your gospel singers down the street and that garage that won’t shut the hell up at three in morning right next door to the same church. Slap those elements on slices of dusty bread from Ohio’s industrial region and you’ll make out with “Run Right Back”, “Nova Baby”, “Money Maker” and “Ten Cent Pistol”. Brief trips down memory lane were made with “Same Old Thing” from 2008’s At- tack and Release and the hyper- commercially-successful “Your Touch” from 2006’s Magic Potion.

The set list as one to be proud of as the evening’s event officially closed with the spitfire surfer-friendly single, “Lonely Boy”.

The crowd was relentless with its desire for more, as both Auerbach and Carney returned to the stage mentioning that some cities don’t deserve an encore, but we, Chicago, did. This cued a gigantic disco ball to lower and spin as “Everlasting Light” boomed from the amps and Auerbach’s falsetto filled the air space of the United Center, followed by “She’s Long Gone” a song with enough guitar and drum solo to feed a starving family of ears. The very last song of the night was predictable, not to undermine it in any fashion, but only to honor its greatness even more. “I Got Mine” sent the crowd into a frenzy of collective singing, stomping, jumping and head nodding as if almost 23,000 attendees had rehearsed outside of the structure for days to get the timing right. The dust-belt duo said their final goodbyes and thank yous as they walked behind a curtain and their shadows grew smaller as they traveled down the tunnel like hallway that lead to the stage. The Black Keys had left one of the biggest garages they might ever have entered.