The Black Keys : Live At The Crystal Ballroom

This is a no-frills DVD from the no-frills Akron, Ohio duo. We catch them in their live element and thus fans will rejoice and haters will not be swayed.  The Black Keys play a compact set that – encore included – just breaks the hour mark, no guests, and no major surprises, just straight ahead white boy blues/hard rock.  Dan Auerbach shaggily fires off riffs and vocal grunts on fan favorites “Stack Shot Billy” and “10 am Automatic” and drummer Patrick Carney crushes his foot pedal into dust on the thunderously jammed out “Busted”. 


The sound is excellent here with Carney’s floor tom vibrating through the screen while the fluid segue between “Set You Free” and “ThickFreakness” screeches.  In the end, no doubt there is fiery playing however, there just doesn’t seem to be much variety and the set ends up feeling like one long song. 


Visually the direction and the lights are major players, Lance Bangs who uses more tight shots and close-ups to accentuate Auerbach and Carney than wide stage shots, a few crowd pans are tossed in, as well, to break it up.  The editing was heavy, but not hyper-spastic – a mixed bag overall.  The lighting, on the other hand, is flawless and inventive, cascading over the sold-out house, playing havoc with lenses and creating fantastic visuals, Mike Grant should be commended for his work here. 


There are only a few extras, three “official” music videos, some behind-the-scenes-footage, as well, but the live set is why fans are buying it, especially if they caught the Keys on this tour.  It will definitely stay in the collection but this effort would seem to play better as a background disk at a party than a sit-down-to-be-studied concert film. 


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