Concert Review: The Black Keys at The Q


It's still hard to believe that the guys in the video above are the same two dudes from Akron in this one.

Slightly bigger these days.

The Black Keys' arena tour swung through Cleveland last night, almost ten years to the day, as Dan Auerbach pointed out, that the duo played their first gig at the Beachland. Auerbach even said he might have been wearing the same "Beat Green" t-shirt that night a decade ago that he was wearing on stage at The Q.

Pat and Dan rolled through a good chunk of their latest album, El Camino, through the show, playing the same songs you now hear on Top-40 radio stations and in the background of truck commercials. Which isn't to begrudge The Black Keys any success, nor the bajillion dollars they're raking in as an arena band. They still rock convincingly, just differently.

Tracks like "Lonely Boy" and "Dead and Gone" played perfectly fine in the larger setting, for anyone wondering how the Keys would sound in a 20,000-seat venue as compared to a club. But while the sound was full and the crowd pumped fists and sang along with choruses, the true energy arrived when the backup musicians departed for a mid-show showcase of only Pat and Dan.

"Thickfreakness" and "Your Touch" just killed, sounding fuller and more energetic than anything played with the full accompaniment of the band with the exception of the exquisite (and perfectly arena-suited) "Little Black Submarine." Maybe that was nostalgia kicking in, but it felt real. Sure, "Nova Baby" is tight and catchy, a perfectly constructed song. But there's still something about Dan magically making a wall of noise on his own and Pat demolishing his drums. Those days aren't coming back, not that we'd want them to. The two dudes from Akron write some kick-ass, grown-up, and skillfully crafted songs now. It's just different.

"Let's keep this moving along, OK?" Dan said between songs.


Setlist after the jump.

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