Music review: The Black Keys, Hydro, Glasgow

Although they often managed to hit the sweet spot between rock and R&B, the Black Keys’ sound might have landed with more potency in a mid-sized venue, writes Fiona Shepherd

The Black Keys, Hydro, Glasgow ***

For some years now, the Akron, Ohio-formed Black Keys have rivalled Jack White as the biggest rock noise shaking their adopted home of Nashville, Tennessee, with frontman Dan Auerbach also nurturing the local scene via his Easy Eye Sound recording studio.

Like White, they are lovers and scholars of the blues, progressively souping up their favoured source material with such mainstream rock success that they have been propelled into the decidedly non-grungey arenas of the world, where the meaty, murky likes of opening number I Got Mine and covers of Junior Kimbrough’s Crawling King Snake and garage rock classic Have Love, Will Travel become somewhat sanitised.

The Black Keys PIC: Anna Kurth / AFP via Getty ImagesThe Black Keys PIC: Anna Kurth / AFP via Getty Images
The Black Keys PIC: Anna Kurth / AFP via Getty Images
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The man on Auerbach’s right, drummer Patrick Carney, needed no introduction – although he was given several. The core duo were joined by a backline of four musicians and yet still there were points when they couldn’t hit the back wall. Their sound is virile enough but would have landed with more potency in a mid-sized venue.

Still, they often managed to hit that sweet spot between rock and R&B. Auerbach’s seductive falsetto on Everlasting Light elicited whoops of appreciation from the crowd, and he could let rip on guitar without losing the groove which makes them such an irresistible pop proposition.

With 11 albums to draw from, there was only room in the set for a couple of selections from their latest release, Dropout Boogie – the underwhelming ZZ Top-isms of Your Team Is Looking Good and the acid funk trip of Wild Child.

The big hitters came from their commercial breakthrough album, El Camino. The glam pop of Gold on the Ceiling and blasting boogie of Lonely Boy were both sure things, while the soulful lament Little Black Submarines transitioned seamlessly from its acoustic Latin-influenced first half to its electric climax.

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