Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Review - The Black Keys (London, ON)

The Black Keys w/ Cage the Elephant
John Labatt Centre
London, ON
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Holy smokes, what a difference five nights makes. Unlike my Toronto review which was a general sense of disappointment in the band gaining more and more popularity, this one is more of an actual review. To summarize it though, with me being in a better mood and having more fun in general, I really enjoyed the show last night.

Once again, the Black Keys are Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (vocals/guitar and drums, respectively) with two others who have joined the band since Brothers to amp-up some of the newer tunes on bass and keys. Over the course of the last month the band has been touring Canada and reached the end of their 10-stops north of the border and I must say I'm excited for the next time they come back to town (or two hours away from home, whichever).

To no ones surprise the setlist was the same, but this is okay, it works. Different expectations, different venue, and different company made this a different experience than Toronto for me and I'm certainly happy about that. Opening up with Thickfreakness and various older tracks including Girl is on My Mind, Stack Shot Billy, and the always explosive Busted, the guys blew the roof off of the place and the crowd was loving every minute of it. Dan being Dan on guitar and Patrick beating the hell out of his drumset makes for a fun show. Before jumping into the newer material they also delivered their cover of Act Nice and Gentle (the Kinks) from the album Rubber Factory which served as a smooth transition for their latest material.

On Thursday night I came in with different expectations and once I was in a negative mindset about the state of the band it was impossible to escape, and the giant discoball that emerged for Everlasting Light had served as a catalyst for this. However, on this night I was already in a better mood and just continued onward with enjoying the show. I was surprised at how much I was enjoying the show and especially the tracks from Brothers (an album I seem to keep forgetting about). Surprisingly, the fans on the floor didn't seem nearly as into their latest hit Howlin' For You as Toronto was on Thursday.

Once the band completed those tracks they slammed home the finale of the main set with Strange Times and I Got Mine, two personal favourites of mine which features some of Dan's dirtiest riffs. Before the conclusion of the latter came a large light-up sign displaying "THE BLACK KEYS" which helped drive home the finish and inspired the crowd to chant for the band to return (they would have even without the sign). At the start of the encore they brought back the additional members (who will eventually get names) to perform Sinister Kid and then the guys shed them to wrap up with the always-reliable Your Touch.

The tone of this review and the Toronto one are very different for various reasons. One theory is that shows out of town always gain points for the adventure, which may be true here, but I just felt better about this show and perhaps the band played stronger too, who knows. Identical setlists, smaller venue (9K vs. 16K), and more fun with the neighbours helped. One observation was that while infiltrating and dropping a simple "bro" in your reply to a bro (who is in the midst of being a bro) may actually cause them to restrain their poor behaviour, it was kind of amazing how effective can be (bro's respond to "bro" well I guess). Before I wrap up, I must also point out that the woman on the video screen for Ten Cent Pistol looks like she could be related to Jack White, just sayin'.

We actually missed most of Cage the Elephant but the floor was closer to capacity last night than it was on Thursday and as a result there was much more energy for lead singer Matthew Shultz to play with. He had the same gray Manchester Orchestra shirt on as he did on Thursday and I sure hope he did laundry before or afterwards; dude sure knows how to bounce around. Unfortunately, I cannot confirm whether or not the setlist was identical since I'm both not familiar with their material nor did I see all of it (just the final three tracks, including Ain't No Rest and Shake Me Down). During set-closer Sabretooth Tiger he managed to do some crowd-surfing again which was cool; I typically don't see lead singers getting into it with the crowd at hockey-arena shows.

Good night, good night. I suspect Thursday may have been an off-night for me as a concert-goer but yesterday certainly made up for it; I'm sure glad I hung on to that extra ticket. I would certainly recommend the Black Keys (try to see them in a smaller venue if possible, duh) and Cage the Elephant are enjoyable in small doses; they bring alot of energy but they're just not my thing in general... bro.

Setlist (The Black Keys):
Girl Is On My Mind
The Breaks
Stack Shot Billy
Act Nice and Gentle
Everlasting Light
Next Girl
Chop and Change
Howlin' For You
Tighten Up
She's Long Gone
Ten Cent Pistol
I'll Be Your Man
Strange Times
I Got Mine

Sinister Kid
Your Touch

Album Breakdown:
Brothers: 7
The Big Come Up: 3
Rubber Factory: 3
Attack & Release: 2
Magic Potion: 1
Thickfreakness: 1
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: 1

(Tentative) Setlist (Cage The Elephant):
In One Ear
Tiny Robots
Around My Head
Japanese Buffalo
Back Against the Wall
Indy Kidz
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked
Shake Me Down
Sabretooth Tiger

Album Breakdown:
Thank You Happy Birthday: 7
Cage The Elephant: 4

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