By Julia Stryj
February 4, 2012
Last Saturday I woke up with a huge smile on my face in anticipation of what should be a fantastic gig by The Black Keys and Band Of Skulls in the evening. When it started snowing just before lunch time I was getting worried I might not make it up to Edinburgh for the evening, but gladly the snow stopped and I set off early to get there in time for doors opening.
The Corn Exchange isn’t the greatest of venues. It feels and sounds like a huge factory hall, but I and the rest of the audience were still hoping for a fantastic evening. Armed with a drink to calm my nerves I waited for Band Of Skulls to come on stage so I could get to the photo pit for the first three songs. I had only recently come across the band through (believe it or not) Radio 1 and I was looking forward to seeing them live after having enjoyed listening to their first album for the past few weeks. The English three piece was a more than suitable support for Ohio’s The Black Keys. They started with ‘Sweet Sour’ – the title track of their upcoming new album and continued to play lively rock songs in a contrasting outwardly calm way (apart from the drummer, Matt). It almost seemed as if they needed all their inner calm to perform their flawless alternative rock set, finishing with ‘Death By Diamonds And Pearls’. Both vocals, Emma’s and Russell’s, worked well together and on their own: Go and check them out if you get a chance!
When The Black Keys came on stage the two other photographers and I were allowed into the photo pitch but were told to stay to the side of the stage for the first song. Even with my earplugs in the bass sounded worryingly harsh and almost burst our heads. Gladly the sound got better throughout ‘Howlin’ For You’, one of my and, judging by the atmosphere, the audience’s favourite songs. Dan Auerbach (vocals and guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums) managed to keep us on the high throughout the 90 minutes set especially when the two additions to their “live band” (Gus and John on keyboard and bass) left the stage for a few songs in the middle of the set. It looked and sounded as if there was even more energy going on when it was just Dan and Patrick on stage. At times, Dan seemed to almost improvise and the two of them managed to create a more intense, raw blues rock sound. Still, there was not one song that didn’t get a strong reaction throughout the whole evening – some, like the current single ‘Lonely Boy’, stood out if only for the great reaction of the normally quite reserved Edinburgh audience.
Talking about the audience: One thing I noticed was the lack of camera (phones) being held up throughout the entire gig. Of course there were some now and again but far less than we have now become used to in most gigs. For me that was a sign of the audience’s appreciation of the music and stage performance. They were there to experience great rock’n'roll music without any distractions. Getting a free Band of Skulls promo CD (Electric Blues EP) when I left the venue was the perfect end to one of the best gigs I have been to.
All photos by Julia Stryj