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The Black Keys, Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT- 7/9

Photo by John Zara

There is a rumor that the aging Comcast Center has A/C, but they must’ve been trying to save electricity the sweltering night the Black Keys played there and the high priests of groovin’ blues didn’t help matters.

This night began with “Howlin’ For You”, but oldie, “Thickfreakness” has lost none of its catchy, insinuating raunch. Now over ten years on from their Ohio beginnings, the band’s sound has changed some; having started out as a duo, the Keys have wisely avoided letting that hamper their development. So for several songs bassist Gus Seyffert and keyboardist John Wood were brought out to bolster the sound, though they remained fairly unobtrusive. The set featured seven songs from their last, El Camino, including “Gold On The Ceiling”, with busted muffler guitar and Patrick Carney’s rattletrap drumming. Dan Auerbach’s world weary, lived-in voice finds the grit in a confection like “Dead and Gone”, which in the hands of Maroon 5 would be a pop song. Auerbach’s stage banter is kept to a minimum. “How ya doin’ Hartford?” Though barely discernible on the venue’s VHS-quality screens, he’ll occasionally do a couple classic rock moves, but he’s mostly business.

On “She’s Long Gone”, Auerbach’s plaintive drawl is shot through with regret, while his stinging lead snakes through “Run Right Back”, before revving through “Money Maker”. The melodic clamor of “Ten Cent Pistol” sees Carney hitting the drums with barely-controlled fury.

Despite the band succeeding far beyond what anyone could have imagined, they continue stomping and shuffling their way through analog heaven, wrapping up with hit, “Lonely Boy” and the guitar-god soloing of “I Got Mine” from 2008’s Attack & Release.

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