Stomp-blues rock group The Black Keys played a long-awaited show at Bojangles Coliseum on Saturday, March 24th, 2012 with Arctic Monkeys.
From the start, it became obvious that a band with as big a fanbase as The Black Keys should be playing venues bigger than Bojangles.
The refreshment lines weren’t too much worse than any other concert but by the time The Black Keys were set to play, the bathroom lines were ridiculous.
Not wanting to miss the ten songs worth of time I’m sure it would have taken to get to the toilet, the long lines led to some behavior that I won’t get specific about, as I’m sure some of it was illegal.
But enough about the drawbacks of playing any venue other than Verizon, let’s get to the pros.
The last time The Black Keys visited this beautiful city, they were opening up for Kings of Leon at Verizon Wireless.
This performance, in September of 2010, stole the show from the “Kings” despite the obvious attempts of management to turn down their sound levels in order to make the headliners sound better.
For this go round, The Black Keys were ready to play a much more personal venue with their own light shows, projections and sound people. It showed.
Arctic Monkeys opened up, playing at about 8 p.m. They played a less than overwhelming set using moody blue spotlights as a backdrop.
After a 15-20 minute intermission, the Keys came on, opening with the hyper arena-rock jam “Howlin’ For You,” from 2010’s Brothers album.
With the pounding Jock Jams-like drums to start the song, I couldn’t have picked a more perfect to begin what would become an electric night.
After another song from Brothers, singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney transitioned into the reason much of the sold out crowd was there; three of the next four songs were off of their new, critically acclaimed album El Camino.
While people couldn’t get enough of El Camino, The Keys’ fanbase is not made up of bandwagon jumpers. They recognized this by spreading their set list out pretty evenly throughout their 11-year career.
While a huge chunk of their songs were off of El Camino and Brothers, they also played songs from everyone of their remaining four albums, not counting Chulahoma, an album of Junior Kimbrough covers released in 2006.
The band has used their first headlining tour to perfect a set list that played to the mood of the crowd in a genius way.
The placement of “Little Black Submarines,” a mostly acoustic song with a very hard ending, as song number 10 in what would be a 20 song set, worked well as a sort of relaxing point while Auerbach strummed and sang before getting back into rock mode.
I had hypothesized that this would be a great song to start an encore with, but it worked great where it was.
The visuals were great, with blue and yellow light shows, bright spotlights blaring into the middle of the coliseum and an amazing silhouette visual of Carney on the left side of the stage that had him at somewhere near Godzilla’s size.
As in other tours, Auerbach and Carney brought along bassist Gus Seyffert and keyboardist/guitarist John Wood, who both played from an elevated stage behind the two group members.
Doing this helps The Black Keys recreate the feel of their songs to sound as close as they can to the studio recorded versions.
This is definitely an effective way to go about things because it is mind-blowing just how perfectly they pull it off.
Some two-member bands, like The White Stripes, are known as great live acts but change their styles up while playing a show. The Black Keys go the other way with it.
The band didn’t play around too long waiting for an encore, which is refreshing in a hot, packed house like Bojangles.
They started it off with the soothing “Everlasting Light” off of Brothers and built up the momentum with another song off of that album, “She’s Long Gone.”
The grand finale came with “I Got Mine,” the first single off of Attack and Release in 2008.
The song was named the 23rd best song of that year by Rolling Stone and was easily the high point of their opening Charlotte set in 2010.
The band must know their strengths, because closing the show out with this song and an amazing colored disco ball effect was the one of the best endings to a show I’ve seen in quite some time.
This was the last Black Keys show for a week, and they are headed back to Akron to rest a bit.
Earlier in the day, Carney had tweeted a picture of his dog, saying that he couldn’t wait to go back and see him. The dog’s name? Charlotte.