- The Black Keys
- December 31, the Joint
It’s the new year and I already have a question: Have the Black Keys become a victim of their own success? Their blazing set from the Cosmopolitan in February 2011 was one of my favorites of that year, and I couldn’t have been more excited to ring in 2013 with the boys from Akron, Ohio, at the Joint. That enthusiasm quickly wavered.
I couldn’t believe the lack of energy singer Dan Auerbach showed during the first few songs, which included singles “Howlin’ for You” and “Next Girl.” It felt like he partied too hard the night before. Surely things would pick up with dance hit “Gold on the Ceiling” off latest album El Camino, right? Not so much.
The slow start finally washed away when the Keys sent their two backing musicians offstage and played strictly as a duo. The short segment included a hot version of “Your Touch,” with Auerbach shredding on guitar with the zest I remember. Drummer Patrick Carney is always fun to watch—a rarity in rock ’n’ roll drumming. He is a deserved centerpiece of the stage show.
As the Keys moved back to full-band mode, the fire stayed lit for the Southern blues-influenced rockers. “Little Black Submarine,” one of their more ordinary singles on record, is an absolute scorcher live, utilizing Auerbach, Carney and the background guitarist and bassist to full effect. “Lonely Boy” was a spirited closer to the main set.
The encore, all of two songs, was frustrating, mostly because it only lasted for two songs. “Everlasting Light,” sung in high falsetto, is always a pleasure to hear, and “I Got Mine” remains full of swagger.
But to the bigger point, which apparently ruled the weekend of New Year’s concerts: You’re headliners! People paid more than $100 to see you. Where are the surprises? Setlist shakeups? Nonexistent. Covers? (The Kinks “Act Nice and Gentle,” for example, was a thrill at 2011’s Cosmo show.) Nowhere to be found. This is New Year’s Eve; craft something special for the occasion.