Walking through the gates the of Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Halloween eve, there was definitely something in the air. I’m gonna maintain that it was excitement, not horror, because after years of rumours and backing out of festivals the Black Keys had finally returned to our shores for a run of headline dates.
If you’ve got your head well and truly buried under a couple of tonnes of sand I’ll give you a quick rundown on the Black Keys, who were making music long before “Lonely Boy”.
The Black Keys are, first of all, guitarist and singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, who met when they were children. Hailing from Akron, Ohio, the band were formed in 2001, and have an extensive discography of blues-rock hits spanning ten years and seven albums. Their records have often featured a mix of original tracks and blues standards covered in their lo-fi, soul-rock style.
After the tech crew, dressed as legendary rock band Kiss, finished running around the stage madly, the band opened with hits from their sixth release, Brothers, including “Howling for You” and “Next Girl”. As the lights dimmed and the band, along with some studio musicians, came out to belt out these well-loved tracks, the audience began to understand what kind of a night they were in for.
The stage was set up with four projector screens framing the stage, which was bordered by four pylons featuring upwards of 12 lights on each. The set-up was very old-school, with the lights looking like glorified megaphones and the band maintaining their bluesy vintage feel.
As the band moved into an older track, one thing became apparent about this group that was different from most other bands you see. When you head off to a live act (this may only apply to me but I feel it’s a general thing) you tend to look at those fronting the band. Watching the Black Keys, though, it was impossible to look past the charisma of drummer Carney, who ferociously followed yet delicately accentuated the guitar work of Auerbach.
After a rendition of “Gold on the Ceiling”, the backing band left Carney and Auerbach to perform a couple of renditions of their early tunes on their own. They busted through “Thickfreakness”, “Girl Is on My Mind” and “Your Touch” without stopping to blink as the duo dished up some of the crunchiest tones of the night.
When the band returned it was on a softer note, and “Little Black Submarines”, my favourite track from their new release, saw Auerbach pick up a steel-bodied guitar and play an acoustic jam before moving into a rolling, soulful electric guitar jam with the band.
As the band began to move toward the close of the main set, it was time for some big hits. “Tighten Up” was received gloriously, but it was nothing compared to what was set to be the majority of the fans’ magnum opus. “Lonely Boy” saw the whole crowd belting out every lyric from the hit track as the band closed the main set.
As they returned for an encore, a giant mirror ball descended from the ceiling as a delightfully soulful rendition of “Everlasting Light” prefaced a grungy end to the evening. The backing band left again and the duo burst through Attack and Release smash hit, “I Got Mine”, which left all fans very satisfied.
Walking out of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (setlist in hand I might add) I couldn’t help but feel ultimately satisfied. While I hadn’t been in a moshpit like I’d expected for a show like this, I knew I’d witnessed something wonderful, and well worth the four-year wait.
- Howlin’ for You
- Next Girl
- Run Right Back
- Same Old Thing
- Dead and Gone
- Gold on the Ceiling
- Girl Is on My Mind
- Your Touch
- Little Black Submarines
- Money Maker
- Strange Times
- Sinister Kid
- Nova Baby
- 10 Cent Pistol
- Long Gone
- Tighten Up
- Lonely Boy
- Everlasting Light
- I Got Mine