If you thought The Black Keys were loud with just two members, imagine guitarist Dan Auerbach with a full backing band. Last month he released an album of solo material called Keep It Hid (Nonesuch), giving him a chance to stretch his songwriting muscles beyond the confines of The Keys. While most of the album is still obviously related to the duo's material, Keep It Hid feels like more of a personal 'best of' reel. Any review of The Keys or Auerbach is riddled with the words raw, heavy, gritty rock, blues, soul and psychedelia, but I have just one word to describe Friday's show at the Metro: Awesome.
I was surprised that the show sold out, but perhaps I shouldn't have been. I never expect a band member's solo tour to be so widely recognized, but The Black Keys have become incredibly popular and their fans are involved. Even more, the place was wild for him. Maybe I haven't been to a sold out show in quite a bit, but I haven't seen this much intensity in the Metro in a while.
I never really appreciated what a great voice Auerbach has because there is so much else going on in his music, but that was until hearing his first song of the set, "Trouble Weighs A Ton." Just him and his guitar, it was a beautiful opening, but then was completely rocked on it's backside with the second song, "I Want Some More." Which also brings me to what a great songwriter he is, along with his ability to command an audience. The band Hacienda played as Auerbach's backing band and also opened for him. Nothing against Hacienda, because they are all incredibly talented musicians and made a wonderful backing band, but their opening material did not even compare to the wallop that Auerbach brought when he took the stage.
They were also joined by My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan (after drummer Bob Cesare had to bow out of the tour). Most of the show Hallahan played various percussion while Hacienda drummer Jaime Villanueva manned the drum set, but on a few songs they both rocked the drums. And I always love a set up with two drummers --two pounding bass drums gives a whole new meaning to a song, especially with the heavy almost tribal beats of several songs including "Street Walkin'."
Best of all, the band was having fun. I caught them all smiling at some point or another, and many times smiling at each other--a feeling infectious throughout the room.
(Image from Auerbach's MySpace page)