The Black Keys with Dr. Dog

The Black Keys
The Majestic Theatre
December 17, 2006
I know nothing of the blues. I don't know Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers from Don Johnson, King of the Rolled-Up Suitcoat Sleeves and Shoes With No Socks (That's only partially true ó the few recordings Robert Johnson made before dying at age 27 paved the way for rock 'n' roll. The few recordings Don Johnson has made get ridiculed on VH1 clip shows).

But I'll tell you who does know the blues ó two-man thunder-machine The Black Keys. Or at least their guitar/vocal half, Dan Auerbach does. Watching the Keys shake the deteriorating interior of The Majestic, its two members represented the dichotomy of their blues-rock style. Auerbach brings the blues, drummer Patrick Carney brings the rock.

As Auerbach sang in a voice stolen from a lost 78 ó his riffs possessing a similar rattle and growl ó Carney thumped the living daylights out of his kit. They make a mighty roar for being just a duo, as evidenced by the fact that Carney's stomping caused his bass drum to migrate a few inches forward during "Your Touch" (but if he doesn't shake-up his playing a little bit, he might have to be committed to the Meg White Memorial Center for Crash Cymbal Abuse).

It was odd to see how little interplay there was between the two Keys. Chalk it up to Auerbach and Carney losing themselves in the music or the fact that they're pretty much stuck behind the mic stand and drum kit, but they were almost in separate worlds on the same stage. It was a revelation when Auerbach triumphantly mounted the drum riser at the end of the set.

With so much focus on the music ó as well there should be ó banter was kept to a minimum, restricted to "Thank you," "We've got a few more songs," and a couple shout-outs from Auerbach to Carney.

And not to keep harping on the superficial aspects, but let's hear it for the band's lighting crew, who have realized that watching two mostly-immobile dudes on stage would make for a pretty boring show, no matter how hard they're rocking. Solid colors and patterned beams flashing to the beat might betray the band's minimalist aesthetic, but they really bring the music to life; nonetheless, the coolest lighting trick may have been the simple spotlights that cast giant Auerbach and Carney shadows on the backdrop.

Dr. Dog opened with a more sedate blend of retrofitted tunes whose vocal and instrumental tautness contrasted the band members' shambolic appearance. Certainly not as earth-shattering as some blogs would have you believe, but a soothing alcohol swab for The Black Keys' injection of fiery blues rock.

Writer: Erik Michael Adams

Photo:Erik Michael Adams

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