The Black Keys’ bluesy garage rock graduates to arenas

Black Keys Photo by Andy Argyrakis
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One of indie rock’s best kept secrets of the early 2000s didn’t just belatedly break into the mainstream after 2010’s “Brothers” went platinum and scored a trio of Grammy Awards, but became one of the few post millennial rock acts of any association capable of filling arenas all over the globe. In addition to selling out single dates in several cities, a few major markets are adding second shows, as was the case with Chicago’s United Center stand on Saturday and Sunday.

…while there was a sizable light show and some LED screens to broadcast all the action to the back of the mammoth facility, it was very much a no-frills night compared to The Black Keys’ peers who play the same places.

Black Keys

Photo by Andy Agyrakis

In terms of the first show, the duo comprised of singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney translated their raucous sounds to the masses thanks to sheer force of instrumental power without ever loosing sight of their explosive, unadulterated blend of garage rock and blues. And while there was a sizable light show and some LED screens to broadcast all the action to the back of the mammoth facility, it was very much a no-frills night compared to The Black Keys’ peers who play the same places.

Accompanied by a bassist and keyboard player, the core duo was able to replicate the more fleshed out sounds found on the new “Turn Blue” (Nonesuch), which the pair once again produced with Danger Mouse. Songs like “Gotta Get Away” and “Fever” kicked up plenty of dust as they resounded with an increasingly noticeable melodic sensibility, while “Weight Of Love” slowly evolved from a gritty ballad into the guitar-charged bombast that’s anchored past projects.

Speaking of older cuts, “Strange Times” came alive with a jittery sense of recklessness, “Leavin’ Trunk” dug deep into the vintage blues and “She’s Long Gone” took a militant tone as it quite convincingly resurrected the psychedelic era. Yet it was alternative rock radio hits like “Tighten Up,” “Lonely Boy” and “Little Black Submarines” that best united dedicated and distant fans, suggesting that the guys are just as capable at writing catchy refrains as they are cacophonic jams, who along with frenetic openers Cage The Elephant, offered ample assurance that authentic rock n’ roll will never go out of style.

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