The Black Keys w/ Jake Bugg – Concert Review

The Black Keys w/ Jake Bugg
Moda Center
10.31.2014

IMG_2171The Black Keys, a.k.a indie/alt’s first arena show. What a beautiful start! In celebration of their eighth studio album, Turn Blue, The Keys launched the Turn Blue World Tour, bringing their bluesy rock and roll dance party to arenas across the globe, hitting the Rose Garden (technically the Moda Center now, but….) for their stop in Portland. This is The Black Keys second time playing our arena, and they’ve done quite well with the space. However, first of all, before getting to The Keys themselves, I have to talk a little bit about openers.

The Black Keys get the best opening bands. I’m 100% serious. For their last stop in Portland, the guys brought along Arctic Monkeys. ARCTIC MONKEYS. They are not an opening band, but Dan and Pat made it happen. So, for this, their latest world tour, they enlisted three acts to take their own legs of the tour: Cage the Elephant, St. Vincent, and Jake Bugg. All top of the bill headline acts, in my opinion. All acts I’d kill to see any day. Lucky for us in Portland, we got to be graced with the presence of the English boy wonder, Jake Bugg.

Though Jake isn’t necessarily the type to perform an arena sized venue, he did alright with the space. His unique nasally voice carried through, along with his amazing guitar work. Seriously, this guy can play. He’s young too, only 20. With two albums out, and a pretty good sized fanbase, I’d say he’s doing pretty well for himself. He really deserves it all though. His 45 minute set of 12 songs contained material from both his self-title debut, focusing more on the acoustic folky tones, and his Sophomore release, Shangri-La, which showcases his skills on an electric, giving us a more rockabilly edge.

Although it seemed like there was a divide in the crowd of people who enjoyed his set and people who didn’t, there was no divide in the amount of people excited for The Black Keys. No question, when the lights dimmed, 100% of the crowd was on their feet, and ready to go.

As the signature Turn Blue hypnotic wheel turned, a voice lulled us into a deep trance, broken immedialty by the first chords of “Dead and Gone”. From the get-go, you knew you were in for something big, even if the reveal of what that could be had not yet happened. With a backdrop of a classic show curtain, Dan and Pat rocked through a couple more songs, before the curtain finally dropped, revealing the arena-worthy stage setup they brought along with them.

Among the fun happening in the background: giant sparkling trusses of light, another velvety curtain behind this, and near 15 giant movable screens. Way to use that space!

The Keys played a nice meaty set of 21 songs, but what I found interesting was the album ratio. Though this is the Turn Blue World Tour, the guys only played four tracks off the new record, while the majority of the set came off their last release, El Camino. No complaining though. El Camino is still one of my favorite rock albums (and also first record I bought, besides JoBros when I was 10. lol.), however I would’ve liked to hear a little more of Turn Blue, especially “1o Lovers”.

Though we only got the big radio play tracks + “Weight of Love” as the kickoff to the encore from the new record, the rest of the set made up for the slight loss, playing not only a really healthy amount of tracks from El Camino and Brothers, but also a few tracks from The Keys’ earlier releases. They even played “Leavin’ Trunk”, a track from their very first album, The Big Come Up, that they said they haven’t played live until this tour. It showcased their roots as the bluesy rock band they are.

Of course, the crowd loved the big radio play tracks as well, singing every word to “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Lonely Boy”, and, of course, “Little Black Submarines”.

LBS was, for me, the highlight of the show. It was the last song of the encore, and it began with just Dan on acoustic, standing under a lone spotlight in the dark of the arena. As the last of the first verses ended, the light cut, leaving the venue in the dark, until the electric slayed through and the lights blinded everyone as we enjoyed our last moments of Halloween night with the one and only Black Keys.

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