Fame Catches Up With The Black Keys At The Palladium
In his slight Southern drawl and a more closely cropped beard, Dan Auerbach welcomed a sold-out crowd at the Palladium Monday night in the same manner he has since 2001.
Then he and drummer Patrick Carney dived right into a frenzy of distorted blues-grunge rock for the opening number, “Thickfreakness.”
Auerbach sang as melodically as he did on the 2003 album of the same name, but the duo amped up the distortion, proving that even with the tidier look, the band still rocks louder with two people than most do with four or five.
Next, they turned the volume down slightly for a guitar-driven bluesy intro. The riff quickly intensified, transforming into the 2004 song, “Girl Is On My Mind.” Auerbach playfully sang along to Carney’s powerful drumbeat.
The stage was set for a signature show as the Keys blazed the kind of no-frills blues-rock songs that won the band a two-night sold out stint in Los Angeles.
But after the awesome “10 A.M. Automatic,” “The Breaks,” “Stack Shot Billy” and “Act Nice And Gentle” Auerbach called in some help from his friends, adding keyboards and bass to the mix.
What ensued was a series of tracks from their latest release, Brothers. First, Auerbach broke out his falsetto in a beautiful, keyboard-heavy rendition of “Everlasting Light.”
Everything still technically sounded great, but not in the gritty, old school Black Keys fashion. For starters, Auerbach and Carney did not need help from their friends, as exemplified in their first seven songs.
As they continued with “Next Girl,” “Howlin’ For You” and the hit “Tighten Up,” the Keys went into full-on pop rock mode. Think later-era Weezer. As a massive red banner with two black fists clasping inside a rubber tire gave way to a garish “BLACK KEYS” marquee made of Christmas lights, the Black Keys turned white.
“Howlin’ For You” and “Tighten Up” stripped out the bluesy sexiness in favor of a dumber, more anthemic style. This was quite a departure from the studio recording, which favored their roots over the sugar-coated pop rock. But that didn’t stop the crowd from going wild, with one large farm-boy up front clapping and stomping his feet as though he were at a hoedown.
Offering a highly upbeat, mainstreamish version of “Your Touch” as an encore, then closing with “I Got Mine”, the Keys reveled in the adoration of their new, mass-market fans. Most of the crowd will probably never know that there used to be a whole lot more flannel shirts and fewer disco balls at the Keys’ honest, blue-collar performances.
Sure, the Keys are leading the way for experimentation through collaborations with Danger Mouse and other hip hop artists, but the abrupt transition from dirty blues grunge to polished mainstream rock seemed off-putting in their live show.
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