A double dose of darkness was cast up on Nottingham’s Rock City on a cold winters Sunday evening, as Akron Ohio’s The Black Keys came to town. In support, and ensuring they left not forgotten, were Austin Texas’ The Black Angels who brought their very own Native American Drone Rock and Roll explosion of sound...
When I originally heard about this gig I made certain nothing could part me from my place in the photo-pit, I was eagerly anticipating the psychedelically induced rock n' roll drone that had been continuously playing on my iPod. I had been listening the bands debut album “Passover” for several months and had been eagerly awaiting the night of the gig for several weeks.
The Black Angels almost crept on stage and with the simple yet gripping guitar introduction Young Man Dead exploded and started an almost hypnotic act on Rock City, capturing every soul and exposing them to the psychedelic trip that the likes of The Velvet Underground had exposed. The heavy melodic riffs and use of an electric sitar added to their revival of sixties psychedelia, which has carried the likes of Anton Newcombe to want to play along side the six piece and make them his new favourite band.
The almost acid-infused trip was made somewhat more real by Jennifer Raines on the drone machine, who, along with drummer Stephanie Bailey, create a sound key by key you could imagine hearing at a Native Indian ritual. The band sparked a great reaction from the crowd whom seemed to be enjoying this unexpected, treat of a supporting act.
After the politically charged lyrics of The First Vietnamese War had ended and the hall was beginning to fill almost to its capacity, the band were encouraged through their next few songs with enthusiastic cheering and dancing. A fantastic sounding set, with Alex Maas’ Jim Morrison-like voice travelling beautifully around the hall over Rock-City’s excellent PA system.
After a 30-minute stage change over, The Black Keys kicked off loud and quickly into their set getting the crowd frantic and almost possessed. Shortly following was their second song, Girl is on my mind, known by most of you crazy kids as the song that went alongside the Sony K800i advert, you know the one where they're knocking tennis balls around the cityscape.
A sudden change of pace in their songs allowed Dan Auerbach to escape within himself and show off his guitar skills. His talents matched by his only band mate Patrick Carney on drums, who showed brilliant technique and rythym even when I, like much of the crowd, had lost it in one of the many playful guitar solos.
The two clearly very close men had a superb awareness of each other’s actions, lending them a great stage presence. You heard right, there’s only two of them. Just imagine what they could create with a bass player! The crowd became more frenzied throughout the set and nearly every song had vocal accompaniment from the adoring and extremely appreciative fans.
Apologies were made on The Black Keys part for the long endured return of the duo, and a set of slightly over an hour didn’t seem to be enough to satisfy the craving. However this was a fantastic gig, and on a quiet day that is usually one of rest, Rock City was truly the only place to be. Thumbs up to those bearded boys for a good introduction to music that has been and gone and come back again.
The Black Keys played at Rock City on the 18th February 2007.
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Photos courtesy of Rob Mars and Matt Coupe (c)
The Black Keys website
The Black Angels website