Review: The Black Keys at The O2

By Rob Virtue on December 14, 2012 1:59 PM |

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MUSIC
The Black Keys
The O2
★★★★✩

IN A NUTSHELL
Fantastic performance from The Black Keys on the first of two sell-out shows.

It's always difficult to give a band at The O2 anything less than four stars out of five.

Whoever turns up at the North Greenwich tent has obviously earned their tour bus a parking space in the depths of the arena.

And with The Black Keys selling out two nights at the venue their credentials could not be in doubt as they took to the stage to promote epic new album El Camino on the first show on Wednesday.

But there's a list that needs ticking.

And the band from Ohio - although immense - never pushed the physical wall down like Pink Floyd's Roger Waters and never had Queen's Freddie Mercury yodeling from beyond the grave on a huge screen behind his former bandmates, such as has been seen at The O2 in recent years.

Incidentally, apparently the now forgotten Justin from Darkness, rode a tiger around Wembley Arena. That must have been worth a five but it's also proof gimmicks won't keep you at the top forever.

The Black Keys, meanwhile, have no stunts. They have great songs, blues-rock anthems most bands can only dream of producing.

They have a singer/guitarist in the shape of Dan Auerbach whose unique and passionate vocals bounce off the walls of the massive arena, while his fingers work their way majestically along the fretboard.

The other half of the two-piece, Patrick Carney, sits more-or-less in the audience where he works hauntingly at the drums, inviting you into the intimate setting basement where the band started.

From the sublime latest hits of Little Black Submarines, Lonely Boy and Gold On The Ceiling, to some of the lesser known tunes from a lengthy back catalogue, The Black Keys had fans in raptures.

Sometimes with a backing band and sometimes without, the duo provided for a magnificent spectacle.

They were not overawed by the occasion - their biggest UK show with 20,000 people in attendance. Little meaningful chat was had but there was enthusiasm in abundance.

Two huge mirrorballs arrived towards the end but without flying through the air on a wire and other such gimmicks, sorry guys, there's no five. I'm sure you won't lose any sleep over it though, after this fantastic performance.