The Black Keys return home

Neville Hardman

Neville Hardman

The Black Keys came home and started off the Turn Blue Tour in Ohio. After their first show in Columbus, Akron natives Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney delivered their two-piece bluesy, garage rock to Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena on Sept. 6.

The Black Keys only had one opener, Cage The Elephant, who captured the crowd’s attention for almost an hour.

Opening with “Spiderhead,” front man Matt Shultz sizzled with energy and head bangs as he flung himself around the stage. The band followed up with “In One Ear,” a single off their debut album from 2009 that melted the audience.

Guitar riffs sounded throughout the arena as “Aberdeen” began to play next. Shultz peeled off his shirt and began jerking his body in crazy directions throughout the song. He collapsed to his knees and just as a crewmember started out from backstage, believing Shultz had passed out, the vocalist dove into the crowd.

Held steady by his fans, Shultz continued, raw and authentic, eventually making it back on stage towards the end of the song. The band went on with their set on the defensive, playing favorites such as “Shake Me Down,” “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” and “Back Against The Wall.”

The anticipated headliner, The Black Keys, came out shortly after to an ecstatic audience.

The best friend duo opened with “Dead and Gone” and then slid right into “Next Girl.” By their third song, “Money Maker,” the curtain fell — revealing several different screens as a background. Carney moved his drumkit upstage so he could play evenly next to guitarist Auerbach. “Gold on the Ceiling” then commenced, causing an eruption of movement followed by “It’s Up to You Now” from the “Turn Blue” album. The Black Keys also had a surprise in store for the Cleveland crowd. They played “Leavin’ Trunk” — a song that hadn’t been heard live since 2002 when it was recorded, adding to an electric performance.

Throughout the show, the side screens portrayed psychedelic backgrounds and grainy filters as if to say, “Hey, we’re doing something cool up here and you should pay attention.”

The Black Keys covered an Edwyn Collins song  “A Girl Like You” as the show was getting towards the end. Notable favorites were saved for a powerful and impressive ending, too. “Howlin’ For You,” “Fever,” “Tighten Up” and “Lonely Boy” were all played almost consecutively.

The lights went dark as the set ended, but the audience wanted more and they got it. Cheers exploded, bright phone screens shot into the air and soon the entire arena looked like a constellation. The Black Keys returned for an encore of three songs, including their iconic “Little Black Submarines.”

This performance was a knock out.  The Black Keys know how to deliver, fresh and directly.  The crowd’s heightened excitement of a home-state show added a presence of ecstasy to the arena that was unforgettable.

While The Black Keys oppose uploading all their music to Spotify, Turn Blue is available for purchase on iTunes for $10.99.

Contact Neville Hardman at [email protected].