In the eight years since their debut release The Big Come Up, the Black Keys have enjoyed a steady upward trajectory creatively and professionally.
Drummer Patrick Carney and singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach have grown from being the other color-coded Midwest indie blues rock duo into a very popular (and commercially viable) rock band, selling out theaters and amphitheaters in the States, Europe and Australia. They're now a favorite of the media/blogosphere and have been co-signed by several rock legends, including Robert Plant and Rod Stewart.
The Firestone High grads' latest album, the groove-heavy Brothers, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and the band has been on a triumphant world tour, which stopped in Cleveland Saturday night for a sold-out show at Nautica Pavilion.
Just like its predecessor, Attack & Release, much of the new album goes beyond the two-man blues-rock stomp. To adequately bring those newer songs to the stage, the band has brought along a bassist and keyboardist. But rather than force bass and keys parts onto their old material, the show and 21-song set list started with just Pat and Dan and the familiar thump and heavy-fuzz riffage of Thickfreakness.
They energetically whipped through a string of early songs, Girl Is on My Mind, 10 a.m. Automatic and a lengthy jam on fan favorite The Breaks.
Keyboardist Leon Michels and bassist Nick Movshon joined the band about halfway through to add to a combo platter of new songs, including the crowd-pleasing Everlasting Light, Next Girl, the noirish Chop and Change from the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack, a singalong Howlin' for You and a whistle-along Tighten Up.
Unfortunately, the hot, muggy still air and the unique sonics of Nautica made the full-band mix muddy, neutralizing the impact of both the keys and the bass on songs such as Ten Cent Pistol and the loping, funky Sinister Kid.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758.