The Black Keys at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, NC

Boogie all you want, the Black Keys provide too much energy and fun to pass out and miss even a moment of their stellar performance.

The Blackout Boogie Tour with The black keys and special guest herd of horses arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina. In the middle of their national tour, the two bands plus the opener First James delighted a near-full house on a hot summer evening with a hugely entertaining setlist of original songs and searing blues covers, all masterfully performed.

Early James began with a brief set of six songs, including his single “Harder To Blame”. Signed to Dan Auerbach’s studio label, Easy Eye Sound, Early James whose real name is Fredrick James Mullis Jr., is a relatively young artist with two albums released from 2020. He performed with a strong stage presence and an adorable southern personal charm and clearly enjoyed his time on stage. He never took himself too seriously and chose to have fun, including making time to joke with several members of the public about the college sports teams in his home state of Alabama. Early James sounded a lot like a grungy Johnny Cash and created a strong blues guitar vibe that the rest of the night would build on.

Band of Horses, fronted by South Carolina-born singer-songwriter Ben Bridwell, received a very warm reception for their ten-song set. After Ben admitted he overslept and failed the sound check, Ben and the band immediately kicked into high gear. Clearly still excited after performing in his home country the night before, Ben and Band of Horses enthusiastically played favorites “The Funeral”, “Is There a Ghost” and “Crutch” as well as a cover of ” Neon Moon” by Brooks and Dunn. Band of Horses played like they wanted to stay on stage all night. Everyone in the band put on a surprisingly strong rock star vibe with fiery guitar solos and a little whim to open the show from bassist Matt Gentling. They fed off the energy they created in the venue and propelled the audience into a harder, faster groove, creating excitement for the headliner.

Opening with “I Got Mine,” the Black Keys took over the venue like a downed power line in a puddle. Raw, searing and dangerous, Dan Auerbach on guitar and Patrick Carney on drums blasted a hole in the slightly damp air and sent the room to an instant climax. Supported by four touring artists who complemented the Black Keys sound with additional guitar, vocals, keyboard and percussion, the interplay of cool grooves and singable hooks with ferocious guitar attacks was on point and met all the expectations of the fans.

Playing only a handful of songs from their latest release, abandonment boogie, The Black Keys drew mostly from the middle of their discography and added a significant number of covers from blues legends such as John Lee Hooker and RL Burnside. The setlist was a celebration of music, providing fans with songs they wanted to hear while celebrating the artists the band admired and were influenced by. Kenny Brown, an American slide blues guitarist whom Dan credits with changing his life and setting him on the path he is on today, joined The Black Keys for four songs. The radio favorites “Gold on the Ceiling” and “Lonely Boy” that closed the show were clearly the highlights of the setlist.

The Black Keys were a powerhouse from start to finish, showcasing the power and emotion of raw blues energy. Delivering nearly 25 songs in total for the evening, The Black Keys produced an incredible show that any rockin’ blues music lover will thoroughly enjoy.

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