The Black Keys

For me any band that mentions my favourite fast food eatery – Taco Bell – in one of their songs is alright by me. If you’ve not tried it, you need to, it’s mighty fine. This coupled with the fact that they’ve got a hot chick co-singing and playing guitar almost certainly meant that I was going to like them. It’s pretty much obligatory. The fact that they rock makes it all the more sweeter! I was therefore made up to hear that Band of Skulls were offering up support to The Black Keys at the Manchester Apollo on Monday night.

The Black Keys

To be honest it was touch and go as to whether we would be in attendance. The weather was shitty – the country had come to a standstill because of the snow, whilst there was ‘freezing fog’ (FREEZING FOG???) on route. That coupled with the fact that I had a poorly doggie meant that I didn’t know whether I’d be traveling up the M42/M6 Toll/M6/M56 until the last minute. Thankfully the Mother Outlaw came to dog sit, we flew up the motorway(s) and less than 2 hours later we were sat in a juicer next door to the Apollo drinking diet cokes with gay abandon #drivingrules #straightedge #grrr

The Black Keys

If you’ve not been to the Manchester Apollo, two things strike you as soon as you enter the arena. One is the fact that it has a sloping floor so even the smallest people get a nice view, which prompts the question as to why all venues don’t do this and secondly the near majestic splendour of the place which was originally built in the 1930s as a cinema. The artistic history is almost palpable and creates a tremendous atmosphere.

The Black Keys

Up step Band of Skulls. The three piece from Southampton have been quietly plying their trade since 2008. Having released their debut album in 2009 they’ve toured with many outfits that complement their style – from BMRC through to the Dead Weather and now The Black Keys. All good for the musical CV.

The Black Keys

Gritty Blues. Roaring guitar riffs. Thumping bass lines. Awesome his/hers vocal harmonies. All adjectives which describe them and The Band of Skulls seem to have the lot. In abundance. They look and feel like a band that are going places – they just give off that vibe. The ever swelling crowd became more and more appreciative of the driving tunes and catchy melodies and not surprisingly ‘I know what I am’ and ‘Death by Diamonds and Pearls’ went down a storm. They are touring under their own steam later this year and you really should try and catch them.

Up step The Black Keys, who have been earning plaudits as writers of ‘the best rock album of 2011’ with their recent launch of El Camino.

The Black Keys

In a deviation from the countless times we’ve seen The Black Keys – they entered the stage as a four piece, whereas they normally they kick off proceedings as a drummer and guitarist/singing duo. You’d have thought that this would give a fuller, more aggressive sound than a stage occupied by Dan and Pat – the chaps from Akron Ohio, but it quickly became apparent that it didn’t. Maybe it was just a levels thing, or where we were stood in the venue, but Dan’s vocals seemed to be drowned out, or maybe it was because they weren’t feeling particularly ‘madferit’, but where as they normally hit the audience with a tidal wave of ‘ooommmppphh which instantly knocks your socks off, things seemed to start off with a bit of a whimper. Don’t get me wrong, the new songs are great, the album is awesome – but something seemed a little out of kilter…

That said, the packed Apollo crowd of 3,500 revellers were lapping it up. From the minute they kicked off with ‘Howling for You’ through to the oh so catchy ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ the crowd went bonkers. ‘Little Black Submarine’ with its beautiful vocal melody and mesmerising guitar solo, was most definitely the live performance highlight from the new album.

The Black Keys

Getting back to their roots and a bid to appease grumpy old traditionalists like yours truly TBK’s kicked their mates off stage and reverted back to what – in my eyes – The Black Keys are all about, two school friends, playing blues with stomping drums and screeching guitar solos, combined with Paul Rogers like vocals. ‘Girl is on My Mind’ quickly followed ‘Thickfreakness’ and order and balance within the rock universe seemed to be restored!

Once more The Black Keys, one of Gig Junkies favourite sons failed to disappoint and fans, new and old, left the venue on a cold Manchester evening ‘appy!.

Gig Review by Zak Edwards
Gig Photos by Bianca Barrett

3 Responses to “The Black Keys + Band of Skulls @ The Apollo, Manchester, UK – 6th February 2012”

  1. Wayne Fox Says:

    Super scorching shit-hot Bee and Zee.

    Love it.

  2. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Band of Skulls @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK – 2nd March 2012 Says:

    […] UK’s most bona fide Blues act. Dubbed as a “Blues/Rock Outfit” and fresh off the UK leg of The Black Keys Tour it was no surprise that there were a few ‘Keys’ T-shirts in the crowd of Band of […]

  3. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Michael Kiwanuka + Jake Bugg @ Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK – 14th May 2012 Says:

    […] bedlam followed, closely followed by his collaboration with The Black Keys ‘Lasan’ and then that was it. He was […]

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