The rock ‘n’ roll relationship isn’t a complicated one. Musically it is set-up and knock-down. On an emotional level, it is give and take, coming and going from both sides. And it is good times asnd bad times, as Led Zeppelin told us so well – “I fell in love with a girl as sweet as could be, only took a couple of days 'til she was rid of me.”
It is blues. Which is what the Black Keys do, as well as anyone one might care to name. In the middle of an electric rain storm, the Ohio-bred duo pushed back with a howl of its own. Its brand of rock is greased, rhythmic and riff-based, inspired by Zeppelin, Bad Company and the snake-charming grooves of North Mississippi. You can move to it, as many in the sold-out shed on Saturday did. Call it black-moon boogie and heavy-hoodoo boogaloo, profoundly electrified and occasionally stylish.
The last encore of the night was I Got Mine. I believe both the audience and the band came away from the performance feeling exactly that – “I got mine.” Young couples swayed together, hands all over each other. “I got mine.” The Black Keys put on a show night after night, soaking up the applause and other windfalls, after years of slugging it out on a much smaller scale. “I got mine.”
Give and take, and using – it is an age-old mutually beneficial transaction, musically and otherwise. Good times, all around.
Touring behind the 2011 album El Camino, the Black Keys fit in a second major show here in less than five months, having played Air Canada Centre in the spring. On Friday, the stomp-flash-and-slash boys headlined Lollapalooza in Chicago; on Sunday, it’s the Osheaga festival in Montreal.
Funny thing, singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach, never one for banter, didn’t seem to know where he was on the itinerary. “So nice to be back in town,” he said early on, not mentioning which town specifically. And much later: “We love coming here.” It was as if he didn’t want to make it too personal – no names please. “I wanted love, I needed love,” he sang on Tighten Up, a sexy, slinky strut concerning aches and their relief. He wants his.
When Auerbach introduced himself and Patrick Carney (the drummer with the kick-drum foot of John Bonham), he made a point of gesturing with his hand when he said “we’re the Black Keys,” just to make it clear that the two guys behind them on organ and bass (and sometimes rhythm guitar) were sidemen, not fully fledged Keys. I got mine, again.
“Well, I’m so above you, and it’s plain to see,” Auerbach explained on the go-go shimmy of Lonely Boy, the final number of the main set. “But I came to love you anyway.” And then he sang along with the crowd, about having someone who “keeps me waiting.”
Kept waiting, but not for long. The payoff was the swooping tension-releasing chorus. And when one concert ends, the next is a tour-bus ride away. Don’t worry about the Black Keys, those lonely boys – they got theirs.
Howlin’ for You
Run Right Back
Same Old Thing
Dead and Gone
Gold on the Ceiling
Girl Is on My Mind
I’ll Be Your Man
Little Black Submarines
Ten Cent Pistol
She’s Long Gone
I Got Mine