Black Keys at the United Center | Review
The Black Keys have toured relentlessly since releasing The Big Come Up in 2002. Monday night, it showed, as their 90-minute, 22-song set at the United Center cruised like a well-oiled machine. “Let’s keep it going!” singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach said more than once before diving into of the duo’s soul-tinged party jams.
The band drew heavily from their last two albums, Brothers and El Camino. “Gold On the Ceiling” pounded out a glam-rock riff on a cheap organ, while the gentle pickings of “Little Black Submarine” channeled Jimmy Page. Two musicians backed the duo up, switching between keyboards, organ, guitar and bass. In their best moments, Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney can transform a mish-mash of ’60s soul influences into irresistible swamp boogies with sugary choruses.
The middle third of the set featured just drums and guitar, and revisited some of their early albums. They sped up of the syrupy guitar lick of “Thickfreakness” and put out a shuffling rendition of “I’ll Be Your Man.” The near-capacity crowd at the United Center got more and more into it as the night wore on. By “Lonely Boy,” they were frantically jumping up and down and singing along.
While the crowd chanted for an encore, a disco ball the size of a Mini Cooper was lowered above the stage. The band then re-emerged and launched into “Everlasting Light” as the mirrored ball cast specks of colored light across the stadium. They closed out their set with a blistering version of “I’ve Got Mine” that included a rousing crowd clap-a-long.
Openers Artic Monkeys played to a crowd that was still trickling in at 7:30pm. Frontman Alex Turner sported a ’50s greaser haircut and played to the crowd, extolling “Chai-town” and asking, “Where the ladies at?” In between these gems, the band played their enthusiastic brand of U.K. dance punk, including their hit “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.”