The Black Keys @ the Molson Canadian Amphitheater – July 07, 2011

While Veronica’s passion is cooking, Ashley’s passion, without a doubt, is music. If you were to tally up all the money she spends on concert tickets alone, well, she could very possibly be living in a much bigger house, drive a better car and not be living paycheque to paycheque. But really, where is the fun in that?

Sadly, this summer has been a bit of a concert drought. While there are a number of big shows rolling in to town, the majority of them are being held at the Sound Academy, which Ashley refuses to set foot in ever again. So when the Black Keys announced they would be hitting the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on July 7, Ashley was beyond thrilled.

The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre is not always the best venue for a show. At least not for a self proclaimed music snob who prefers to be as closely immersed in the concert scene as possible. And it’s not always the easiest venue to get to, especially when most of the roads around the venue are closed in preparation for the Honda Indy in Toronto. But fighting through the mass of people and vehicles, Ashley eventually arrived there just after 8pm as Cage the Elephant was taking the stage.

These boys from Kentucky hit the stage with a bound of energy, pouring out their radio familiar hits in the brief half hour-ish set. Knowing only their tunes that the Edge plays regularly, Ashley was relatively surprised with how many songs she was actually familiar with, which goes to say these guys have made a better impact on the Toronto music scene than initially expected.

Though lead singer Matthew Shultz often bordered on that somewhat annoying scream/yelling/forced singing, he rarely ever stopped moving on stage, throwing his hair around, throwing his body around, jumping off the stage into the crowd, and sometimes taking out innocent observers with the mic wire. Their stage presence was intensifying and the perfect attack to pump up the crowd before the headliners took the stage.

The Black Keys were a little later than anticipated, modestly walking out to a stadium of about 16,000 screaming fans only to thank them for showing up as if they were playing some small coffee shop and grateful to actually see some faces in the crowd.

Their set started with a mix of songs from their first three albums, something long time fans are always grateful for. Though the tour is generally in support of their newest album Brothers, it’s refreshing to hear the songs that made you fall in love with the band in the first place.

After playing a cover of the Kinks’ Act Nice and Gentle, which the band says is one of their favourite songs; they welcomed a couple more musicians to join the stage and jumped right in to their newer tunes.

Obviously what the fans were waiting for, this point of the show really picked up as Everlasting Light started and a giant disco ball lit up on stage, casting glimmering strands of light all through the Amphitheatre. Up next was Next Girl, accompanied by worn out black and white video footage of burlesque dancers, Chop and Change (their newest tune, recorded for the Twilight soundtrack, sadly), Howlin’ For You and Tighten Up – all of which brought those last few people still sitting to their feet.

After a couple more new and old numbers, the set ended with I Got Mine, where you saw for the first time a giant neon THE BLACK KEYS sign rise up on the stage. The sign, of course, remained during the low point before the encore, flashing rhythmically and enticing the audience into a BLACK-KEYS chant.

The two song encore started with Sinister Kid, ending on a high note with Your Touch, which sent the crowd into a flurry of screams, crowd surfs and howls. All in all, it was a fantastic show. Though Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney aren’t much for talking, their stage presence and impeccable talent spoke volumes and continued to resonate well after the show, enough to actually cause another sleepless night for this rock n roller.

Full Set List

(Ashley did not take any pictures at this show due to an unfortunate accident with her camera and water in Europe. But really, she would just much rather watch a show with her own eyes instead of through a camera lens. For pictures, see: Molson Canadian Amphitheatre or Karon Liu)