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Concert Reviews and Photos

The Black Keys @ Centre Bell – 03.13.12

03.15.12
The Black Keys

In a city where the pot-holes are as big as moon craters and the bridges keep collapsing, it’s a testament to the enduring coolness of Montreal that we’re able to attract such diverse and talented groups like The Black Keys and their supporting act, the Arctic Monkeys, to the Centre Bell. On Tuesday March 13th, the Arctic Monkeys took to the stage with middling results. Although fusing heavy metal and punk elements with surfer and ska riffs, their music is not for everyone. The audience’s initial lukewarm reception seemed to confirm this. And while their set seemed to drag, people were genuinely impressed with front-man Alex Turner’s energy. Songs like The View From the Afternoon and Brick by Brick, served to convince us they are talented, diverse and experimental. Matt Helders’ explosive drum work was incredible to watch. He kept pounding away with the speed and accuracy of a man recently freed from The Matrix. By the end of their last song R U Mine, the Arctic Monkeys had done their job. The crowd was primed and ready. The Black Keys began playing to a packed audience of enthusiastic and energetic fans. Opening with Howlin’ for You, it was clear that vocalist, Dan Auerbach and drummer, Patrick Carney, were on a single-minded mission to stomp heads and kick ass. Throughout the performance, Auerbach refrained from flirting with the crowd. Given our love affair with The Black Keys and their old-school blues and rockabilly roots, he clearly didn’t have to. Playing a varied cross-section of their albums, they reminded us that while their music has evolved, they’re still committed as ever to their signature sound of smashing drums and piercing Zeppelin-style guitar riffs—evidenced by Auerbach’s inspired solo on Girl is on my Mind. When they played Little Black Submarines, a palpable energy was felt throughout the arena. Lighters came out and spontaneous singing erupted. Closing the night off with I Got Mine was simply impressive. As Auerbach and Carney thundered away, a brightly lit sign reading “The Black Keys” descended just above the stage. With howling guitar and drums thundering with frantic energy, I felt the sticky, beer-stained floor, saw a crowd moving as one, and smelled the faint odor of reefer. Gosh, it was like being at a damn fine rock concert.

Paul Dias


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