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Concert Reviews:
Black Keys Deliver Big Noise In Royal Oak
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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ROYAL OAK -- The giant tire behind the Black Keys informed us it was a Heavy Sole brand, an apt description for the Akron duo's music and it's performance Tuesday night (April 15) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.

Their latest album, the Danger Mouse-produced "Attack & Release," may be the most sophisticated and textured of the Keys' five releases, but in concert singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney remain the same primal, stripped-down outfit that's staked a deserved reputation as a hot live act. Over the course of 17 songs and 75 minutes, the Keys roared through a dynamic blues-rock attack, a gritty showcase that had the sold-out Royal Oak crowd charged from note one and, presumably, forgetting all about the tax returns they'd already filed -- or perhaps still had to later in the evening.

The Keys' brand of duo rock is unique from the White Stripes or others of the ilk, steeped in riffy, Led Zeppelin-style electric blues laced with occasional psychedelic touches -- particularly on "Girl on My Mind" and "Psychotic Girl" -- and slowing down only occasionally, for fare such as "You're the One." The group sent an early message by opening with "Attack & Release's" "Same Old Thing," stripping the album arrangement down to a stomping core with a heavy beat and plenty of distortion to show that the Keys at their core are as basic as Auerbach's flannel and Carney's black T-shirt.

The two delivered a half-dozen songs from "Attack & Release," including scorching takes on "All You Ever Wanted" (on which Auerbach played electric piano), "I Got Mine" and "Remember When," and it also avoided any tendency to stretch things out with gratuitous jamming. Mostly they kept their songs compact and punchy, with bona fide guitar hero Auerbach -- who played the same instrument all night -- stretching out only occasionally, during "Girl on My Mind" and "Busted" and demonstrating his slide acumen on "Thickfreakness" and "Stack Shotbilly." Carney, meanwhile, stayed solidly in the pocket but marked his beats with enhancements that mitigated for the lack of other instruments.

The net result was primal but with polish. The Keys made a big noise with just two guys, and it's time for the noise about them to spread even further.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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