The Black Keys @ Metropolis Fremantle (22/06/2008)

After canceling their headlining slot at last year’s Rollercoaster festival on the Mandurah foreshore, there were rumours in cyberspace that The Black Keys were on the verge of calling it quits. By the grace of the rock gods, this was not the case and the duo from Ohio stormed back into the musical conscious with a new LP entitled Attack and Release. With producer-of-the-moment Dangermouse taking control of production, the new album broke the shackles of drum and guitar that had served them so well over the previous four albums. The album received mixed reviews, with purist fans proclaiming they had sold out, yet others saying that it had been the right time for a change. Even if The Keys lost a few fans with the new album, they had won over a few more judging by the sold out show they played at Metro’s Freo.

Just after nine, Metro’s was absolutely jammed full. First support was provided by local workhorses, The Silents. (Do any bands besides The Silents, Sugar Army and Harlequin League do high level support slots in Perth?) Anyway, The Silents are sounding better and better for all of their experience, and put on a great show, playing tracks from their recent debut album Things to Learn. Early single 23 went down a treat with the mixed crowd.

The Silents finished up and started clearing away their gear and the focus ominously drifted towards the blue drum kit with ‘The Black Keys’ psychedelically scrawled with black texta on the kick drum. The crowd really started to lose its collective mind when an enormous black tyre was inflated at the rear of the stage, inscribed with ‘The Black Keys, Akron Ohio,’ in case anyone didn’t know who was on stage next.

A roadie got on the mic to introduce the band, as they shuffled on stage with a wave to the thunderously loud crowd. They really are quite the couple. Pat Carney, the nerdy looking drummer who only wears his glasses in between songs to read the setlist and Dan Auerbach, who looks like he just drove out of the bayou with his long hair and impressive beard. Launching into the set with Girl Is On My Mind from Rubber Factory, it occurs that earplugs may have been a good option.

Their rhythms complement each other perfectly, showing why they are so popular despite what some might call a limited setup. Drums go hard, guitar backs off, guitar starts to howl, drums build the pressure. It works perfectly. When the first riffs of 10AM Automatic boom from the speaker stacks the front rows go bananas and the rest of the crowd follows suit. Following up with So He Won’t Break from their most recent album, drummer Carney is starting to build a sweat while Auerbach lets loose with a sweet slide guitar solo. Another classic emerges with the first off-key licks of Stack Shot Billy which sounds even better live than it does recorded with the kick drums rattling a few diaphragms. The party in the fourth row had really started by this point, with some fans being unable to contain their inner party animal, to the dismay of giant-man-with-pony-tail-dressed-in-black, who almost throttled one of the over-eager moshers.

Akron’s finest launched into recent single Strange Times which sent the moshers straight off again. The Keys then headed into older territory, which also seemed to get the biggest applause, ripping out Your Touch from 2006’s Magic Potion, The Brakes from debut The Big Come Up and Just Got To Be also from Magic Potion.

The Keys were absolutely rocking and the crowd loved it, taking in every fuzzed-out riff and smashed cymbal like it was the last. Finishing with I Got Mine, the blues-rockers take their leave from the stage with a humble thank you and bow, but the house lights don’t come up and the crowd starts to bay. The boys return to the stage with Auerbach taking a seat at the organ that has been lurking in the shadows for the majority of the night and sounds like it has been run through about 8 distortion pedals. Belting out Things Aint Like They Used To Be, it is clear The Keys will always be welcome in Perth due to the amazing live shows they are renowned for. So much sound for just two blokes.....