During the past three years, The Black Keys have grown a huge fan base after winning a Grammy for “Brothers.” Since then they have released a new album, “El Camino,” which is the basis of this tour. This is the first stadium sized tour for the duo after headlining multiple festivals. This is also the first stadium sized tour in America for opening English band Arctic Monkeys which late last year released their fourth full-length album, “Suck it and See.”
Arctic Monkeys is a band which has taken Europe by storm and truly hit the market with their second album “Favourite Worst Nightmare.” Since then they have grown and worked with, Josh Homme (Guitarist of Queens of the Stone Age) on a more in depth and perceptive album which was not received that well entitled, “Humbug.” It was said that the album was not truly that pop sound that the band had created and was a diversion from their true nature. There were singles on the album which are still trademark tracks such as, “Crying Lightning,” whose lyrics truly lack any meaning, which is later used in “Suck it and See.” Also they still kept true to the one calm and tranquil song which they have per album, this time the lyrics reflect that of the lead singers melancholy romance, looking for someone similar to his departed loved one asking if he can call them her name in, “Cornerstone.”
In their new album, they have gone for a more retro feel, playing back to their origins of English pop rock and have finally ‘broken,’ America. They have harder rock songs on this album, raising their ranks from a small indie band to a real ‘rocknrolla’ group. This album sounds like the album which should have followed, “Favourite Worst Nightmare,” with the vocals and lyrics being less serious and having the melodic tone which best fits the band.
Also, after having written songs for the soundtrack to ‘Submarine,’ Alex Turner used the lyrics and style to some of the tracks for this album. There is even a song which is re-done by the group on, “Suck it and See,” which was one the soundtrack titled, “Piledriver Walt.”
In order to keep the prices of the tickets low, The Black Keys decided to play at the Cynthia Woodland Mitchell Pavilion, which is not known for its intimacy with fans but rather its isolation from direct interactions with the performers. Through interviews there is the sense that the band truly hates commercialism and did a promotion to all fans which asked for a picture of the oldest concert ticket of the band to attain free tickets to their gig. With incentives like these there is an admiration to them showing that the fame has yet to invoke a different mentality towards fans.
As the sun was still out, the Arctic Monkeys came out on stage and began to play the track which put them on the charts and defined them as a band, “Brainstorm.” The song was riveting and was the adrenaline and rock sound that a band of this caliber is known to deliver to its audience. Though there were many other tracks that fans of the band wanted to hear, they stayed in line mainly to their more popular ones in an attempt to retain some attention from the inattentive and thoughtless American audience.
As the show went on only fans of the band and a few others were touched by the power and intensity this band delivered with tracks such as, “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” and “If You Were There Beware.” Though there was a lack of audience participation the band continued to put on the perplex performance that was seen at Coachella earlier in the month. There were many parts of their performance which were similar or identical to that seen at Coachella, such as Matthew (drummer) singing “Brick by Brick,” and Alex Turner doing some miming while singing, “Kung Fu fighting on your roller skates. Do the macarena in the devils lair…” As their one hour set was coming to a close, they said their goodbyes to the crowd which consisted of teens and adults almost evenly and played their single which was released on Record Store Day, “R U Mine.”
As the lights dimmed once again from the main acts, the audience which was all mainly sitting down stood up when the guitar riff and keyboards played, “Howlin’ for You.” The sun was down and the lights and LCD screens behind the band showed different perspectives and views with filters showing the band off in a 70’s and 80’s styled music video. The set mainly stayed in the mainstream career of the band, playing mainly from their Grammy winning album, “Brothers,” as well as their new album, “El Camino,” which was not a surprise since this is the duos first stadium sized tour.
Though they had to appease their new fans, there were also tracks which only lifelong fans of the band knew such as, “I’ll Be Your Man,” which was on the band’s first ever full length album. Also they played the tracks which made them popular amongst the rock and blues crowd during the growth of the band with, “Thickfreakness,” and “Your Touch,” which lacked nothing and sounded rugged and formidable in comparison to their album counterparts. While the remainder of the audience just moved to the rhythm and looked in bewilderment as they endured the tracks which lay the foundations for this masterful duo the fans of the band which had expected nothing less than perfection, moved and sang along.
As the set list went on the band continued to play newer and older tracks shifting between the two, appeasing the entire audience, which is a feat that is not easily mastered in stadium sized venues. The last time the band was in town was in 2008 at the Meridian which was a sold out crowd of nearly 600 people with the band promoting, “Attack and Release.” Since then they evolution of the band has been seen in their writing and style with that show in the Meridian being critically reviewed as a, “burnout.”
The final song the band played was “Lonely Boy,” which made everyone in the lawn move and dance similar to the music video to the track. During the live performance of the song, the crowd cheered and screamed as they sang along.
The band left the stage and the melodic chanting and roars of the audience demanded more. As the band once again came back on stage a giant disco ball propelled down from the rafters as soft drums and guitar started and Dan Auerbach began singing, “Everlasting Light,” one of the favorites from “Brothers,” which did not bask as much mainstream success as other tracks, but was still a signature melody of the album. The band then did another track which lacked mainstream success, “She’s Long Gone,” another track from, “Brothers,” which holds the original style that the band had devolved throughout the years, with a twist of a guitar slashing riff during the transition from a verse to a chorus.
Finally, ending the encore was, “I Got Mine,” the track which propelled the band to become more a house hold name from their album, “Attack and Release,” as well as a fan favorite. After the second verse of this track there is a mellow rhythm that was dismissed during this live jam session which was a masterfully crafted build. There was much tension and pressure as the guitar and drums kept building the track as only Dan and Patrick were on stage, looking at each other knowing that they are making the audience anxious for the style and rhythm they created. As Dan stung his guitar, the drums kicked in exploding the sounds through the mounted speakers onto the audience which jumped and moved not knowing that there was such intensity in the closing track. The disco ball lifted as large light bulbs lit up behind the top of the band making it read, “The Black Keys,” looking similar to the older movie signs. The guitars wailing ended the night perfectly as the stage was lit by the bands sign confirming their true nature of fans of the old school.