The 02 Dublin
Those who think Ohio’s Black Keys leap-frogged the gap from obscure types to multi-million selling act in super-quick time had better readjust their faculties.
Formed in 2001, from which time they slogged away, gaining a committed fanbase through constant touring, it wasn’t until 2010’s triple Grammy Award-winning Brothers album that the duo (Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney) finally became a recognizable mainstream act. Their emergence through the garage rock revival pinpointed a few notable aspects about them, however. These included a marked similarity with White Stripes, which also operated as a two-person unit, and which also drew from the deep well of the blues.
And so here we are in a virtually sold out arena, watching a lean, no-frills, no-excess show where, unusually, drummer Carney and his kit are stage front, sharing the spotlight with the equally frenetic Auerbach. It’s an odd thing; if you close your eyes there are times when you reckon you could be listening to a non-perfectionist blues/rock/RB band in a small bar venue in an out of the way part of town. Which means that, to be perfectly clear about it, there’s nothing particularly amazing, groundbreaking or different about Black Keys. Their journey from underground blues/rock act to an arena band – and that journey’s associated success via a series of solid album releases and, crucially, an extremely astute song-licensing strategy – is actually far more interesting.
Music business sidebar stories aside, though, there’s little doubt that the band knock socks off feet; via their apprenticeship at the coalface of dive bars, the core duo of Auerbach and Carney clearly appreciate that the best way to hold the attention is through the delivery of pummelling, primal blues/rock, frantic pacing and minimum chat. In a venue such as this, however, Black Keys are merely adequate. Never a good thing.