With a support slot for the Rolling Stones in New York lined up for the following night, the Black Keys might – I thought – be tempted to sail through the climax of their two-night residency at the o2 arena without expending too much energy. How wrong one can sometimes be.
Effortlessly exuding cool, the band strolled on silhouettes-first, accompanied by ‘70s funk and rapturous applause from the near-capacity crowd. Carefully balancing their set list between the esoteric and the obvious, the duo reeled off the hits that have brought them international recognition in recent years, as well as a few older fan-favourites from their extensive back catalogue.
Jumping headfirst into the show with 2011 hit ‘Howlin’ For You’, the group enjoyed the first of several football fan-style chant-alongs with the crowd. Though accompanied by three backing musicians for most numbers, the original members – Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney – were perhaps at their most impressive when they returned to their two-piece roots. Tearing through past singles such as ‘Your Touch’, the Ohio pair have to be commended for the sheer level of noise they are able to create with just drums and a guitar.
Auerbach toyed with the crowd, letting them know that the success of the night would be based on their reaction to the next song, before unleashing the opening bars of last year’s viral hit ‘Lonely Boy’. Proof of a successful night ensued, followed by a discoball-driven sing-along encore.
The band managed to remain humble and committed throughout, somehow ignoring the promise of the next night and spending time at the end to thank all of their fans. Roll on the Big Apple.