The Black Keys are singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney. At the Wells Fargo Center, Auerbach was all stubble, leather, and sweaty bangs, bouncing on the balls of his feet like a prizefighter circling the ring. Carney was octopus-armed and absent his trademark Buddy Holly Ray-Bans, hunched over his drum kit as if he were driving an Ed "Big Daddy" Roth hot rod.
For the first and final third of their blistering performance, the Keys were joined by a pair of utility players - Gus Seyffert and John Wood - trading off the bass, slide guitar, and vintage keyboards that flesh out the Grammy-winning Brothers, and the new, already-gone-gold El Camino.
This expanded version of the Keys opened with the lupine hump and grind of "Howlin' for You" and the swampy, primordial ooze of "Next Girl." They closed out the night with the hits - the whistling Northern soul of "Tighten Up" and the souped-up rockabilly "Lonely Boy" - and encored with a majestic "Everlasting Light" performed beneath a giant mirror ball that turned the Wells Fargo Center, for a few minutes anyway, into the world's largest snow globe.
During the middle of the concert, they kicked it old-school, as they did in their parents' basement back in Akron, Ohio, at the turn of the century. Just Auerbach's blazing guitar and blacksnake moan and Carney's swinging heavy wood, bashing out a fierce trifecta of righteous, deep-cut, back catalog, BK blooze: "Thickfreakness" followed by "The Moan" and then "Girl Is on My Mind."
It was at this point that a casual observer could look around and marvel at the fact that, with nothing more than the bang and strum of a drum and a guitar, the Black Keys could lure in 14,864 souls Pied Piperlike into this vast arena and hold their rapturous attention for nearly two hours.
And then you would stop and think how often that happens - which is pretty much never - and think how lucky you are to be here now.