Written by Jim Bille
ImageThe atmosphere at the Toyota Center was charged with anticipation when the The Black Keys brought their Turn Blue World Tour to Houston to perform to a near sellout crowd.

With the release of their latest album, Turn Blue, the Keys are once again leading their fans down a new age blues path; and, what better way to experience it than a live performance from this Rubber City power duo.

For this tour, The Black Keys stage set up was not as sparse as other productions I’ve seen from them. This set consisted of multiple diamond vision screens hanging behind the stage showing numerous angles of the band at any given time. Sometimes distorted and sometimes real time images of the entire show were easily viewed throughout the venue with no problem at all and the sound system worked out especially well for an arena of this size.

Even though their latest CD, Turn Blue, has garnered some good reviews the show didn’t really lean too heavily on the new release but seemed to focus on the songs that got them to where they are today in the music world. The band mostly played it safe and gave the crowd what they wanted to hear by performing numbers from their Grammy award winning albums El Camino and Brothers as well as a few older tunes from their ever growing musical catalog.

ImageCrowd sing-along favorites like “Gold On The Ceiling”, “Howlin’ For You”, “Lonely Boy” and “Tighten Up” were of course featured and kept the audience dizzy with excitement.

The Black Keys managed to touch on just about every stage of their career by performing numbers like “Same Old Thing” and “Strange Times” from their 2008 album Attack and Release, “Leavin’ Trunk” from their first record The Big Come Up and “Your Touch” from 2006’s Magic Potion.

The Keys also incorporated an unexpected and interesting cover version of Edwyn Collins’ “A Girl Like You” into the show, which sounded remarkably like a Black Keys penned song anyway.

Although touted as the “Turn Blue” tour I only counted five numbers performed from this slightly dark and sometimes shady sounding latest release that included “Too Afraid to Love”, “Fever” and “Gotta Get Away”.  

Some of the music on Turn Blue does seem to be a bit moody and melancholic at times and may not have translated so well in a large concert setting like the Toyota Center. Songs like the lengthy and ethereal “Weight of Love” showed up during the encore set as well as the title track “Turn Blue” but The Black Keys again played it safe at home with an incredible version of “Little Black Submarines” for the final number.

ImageIt’s rare these days to find so much talent wrapped in a package of two; but, the musical duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are the exception.

The Black Keys seem to be constantly on the road so there’s no excuse not to catch one their shows the next time they are within 200 miles or so from where you live.