photo via The Roosevelts
Last night, The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys played Madison Square Garden for the second time in two weeks. The double bill, which would not have made much sense in 2006, made a lot of sense at this particular time-- both bands have been spending the past couple of years developing an enormous rock sound, and the big riffs and furious rhythms of both groups couldn't have been more at home than with a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden.
Openers Arctic Monkeys powered through a "best-of" hour-long set that included the seven-year-old (!) "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor" and "The View From The Afternoon." Singer Alex Turner had the comfort and swagger that could only come from being onstage for one's entire adult life. Their newer, darker material like "R U Mine" and the sinister "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" got the thousands of fans excited for the night. Also, Arctic Monkeys' live show proves once and for all that Matt Helders is an unstoppable beast of a drummer: blink-of-an-eye drum fills, breakneck speeds, sticks thrown in the air, all while singing backing vocals. If it's true that your band is only as good as your drummer, Arctic Monkeys are pretty damn awesome.
When the lights came up between sets, the colossal venue was almost full. Half an hour later, the lights dropped again and Wu-Tang came on. Dan, Pat and crew walked out unassumingly and threw down 100% from the first seconds, with their opener "Howlin' for You." About 3/4ths of the set was dedicated to Brothers
and El Camino
, arena jams like "Gold on the Ceiling" and "Lonely Boy" had everyone singing along, clapping their hands and high-fiving surrounding audience members. Madison Square Garden was the perfect place to see the 70s-style slow burner "Little Black Submarines." No matter how cheesy it is to see lighters waving in the air, or two giant spinning disco balls, The Black Keys were the band to employ those age-old rock tricks.
Show closer "I Got Mine" was arguably the best song of the night: it's great to see Dan and Pat still rock out on their own. In the middle of the song a banner in black dropped down with the band's name. As the song ended, the huge sign lit up in vanity light bulbs, coordinated to the final beats of the song. With the way the thousands of fans were screaming, it was clear The Black Keys deserved see their name in bright lights in the arena.