Two is the magic number.
It was an evening where all the general conventions seemed to be out of the window. Outside of the gig, ticket touts were being haggled down to virtually cost price, youngsters who looked as though they should have been at home having their Sunday evening bath to prepare for the week ahead at school were bouncing around drunk and stunningly good looking women were pushing through the crowd to get into the mosh pit for a pogo around. The Queens Hall is seen as one of the more reserved and sedate music venues in Edinburgh but the place really lets its hair down for the night as The Black Keys set about performing their usual set, making no excuses or compensation for the venue.
This writer has been lucky enough to have witnessed The Black Keys a few times over the years, in venues far smaller than the one they recently played and although the set lists may have changed; there was a refreshing consistency about the act. Not in the sense that you could get bored with them but more to do with the fact that they have clearly found their style and groove and have worked on developing it. Obviously nowadays they work with people like Danger Mouse and have a stronger production element to their sound but regardless of these changes, The Black Keys still manage to encapsulate the sounds of their and your favourite bands.
One minute Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney sound like Ronnie Robertson and Levon Holme of The Band with their bluesy country licks and laidback style, the next song they are channelling the spirit of Jimmy Page and John Bonham as they roar through a number with Zeppelin-esque abandon. That’s not to say that The Black Keys are merely a band imitating others, they perform with their own style and energy but you can sense the influence of other acts on them. Which is probably one of the key reasons why you can fall in love with The Black Keys, they make you feel as though they are music fans too and this shines through in their performances. Of course the act talks to the crowd and try to engage in communication but the real magic and connection lies in the performance.
Earlier songs like ‘Stack Shot Billy’ blend effortlessly with new material such as ‘Strange Times’ and ‘I Got Mine’ creating a night that ebbed and flowed nicely. Perhaps in an attempt to calm proceedings down a bit, there were some moments where the band dipped the tempo but you got the impression it was of their own making as opposed to being unable to keep up. It was a well managed performance that never offered anything less than an excellent set.
With the end of year polls destined to have ‘Attack & Release” there or there abouts, at least for the critics, 2009 really needs to get this act involved in decent slots at the summer festivals. If you already love The Black Keys you’ll know why and if you don’t already love them, be prepared to do so soon.