It is a freezing cold and blizzard like scene as I step out of Wood Green Underground station, my Converse shoes which have holes in were probably not the best option as they become soaked within seconds. All this on top of a 1 and a half hour journey from my house; a journey I almost did not bother with as the travel seemed too arduous for the premise of in my mind at the time seeing a decent to good band. The band of which is The Black Keys; a two piece band from Akron, Ohio. They have been going strong for roughly 10 years or so, although coming in during the “rock revival” of the 2000s, they did not seem to have the same success or critical acclaim of their peers, such as The White Stripes and The Strokes. Having said this, their breakthrough was with the release of Brothers in 2010. Critical and popular acclaim finally came calling and without pause for reflection, the duo set work on their newest release El Camino with a live tour to follow, with 2 extra dates added in London in the Alexandra Palace due to demand; which on this horrible Thursday night I am here for.
As I enter the gig, I realise how vast it is; for a minute almost looking like a mini stadium. The place is filled with a mix of young, old and hipsters. A group of which I follow as I scramble behind them to get nearer the front. Soon, the lights dim and the band walk on as a four piece, with a bassist and organ player; additions since the two most recent albums.
The Keys kick off with ‘Howling for You’ with the bass and drum rumbling through, frontman’s Dan Auberbach’s whiny guitar and soft voice giving the song surprising traction as the crowd begin to jump about. As I begin to timidly sing a couple of words I’m joined by a complete and slightly drunk stranger who grabs me and we begin to shout and jump up and down like two best friends. They rip through songs mostly from the latest two albums. At the end of ‘Gold On The Ceiling‘ (the latest single to be released) the bassist and organist leave for a couple of songs leaving just Dan and Patrick Carney, the slightly gangly but powerful drummer alone to then rule the stage. Bursting into ‘Thickfreakness’ the crowd go wild, as it seems as though we are seeing the band during their early incarnation as a two-piece garage rock band. The power of the Keys is evident; with relentless riffs, powerful drumming and lyrics everyone can shout too. The performance of the songs being so strong it caused me to love songs I never really liked before, simply due to the live performance.
The Keys topped this great gig with an encore which was being hailed form the fans as soon as they left after performing the lead single ‘Lonely Boy’ from the new album. They kicked the encore off by performing ‘Everlasting Light’ at which point a glitter ball the size of the drum-kit is lowered down, illuminating the vast area that is the Alexandra Palace, whilst the name of the band is shone in Hollywood-esque lights. In another setting this would seem self-aggrandising but the Keys pull it off and end what is one of the best gigs I have been too.