Friday, October 06, 2006

The Keys Work

The Black Keys, Carling Academy, Birmingham, Saturday September 30 2006.
Kate Finch, The Black Horse, Aston University Campus, Birmingham, Saturday September 30 2006.

Dead Kenny and some friends converge from various parts of the country on the second city for the night. The rollcall features Raimundo; Keef and playboy millionaire (ret'd) Roy. A few quick pints in Scruffy's are first consumed before heading to the Academy to catch The Black Keys in action. Despite a muted critical response to their third album 'Magic Potion', the Keys' have not only had their show upgraded to the main academy but have now sold this larger venue out (although the balcony and attendant bars are cordoned off). This is largely due to a growing reputation for the band as a live proposition, seemingly much deserved on this showing as they make a fearsome noise for a duo comprising a singing guitarist and a drummer.

Their take on raw, primal blues is a retro schtick given a contemporary lick, and for sheer pulverising power and nihilistic energy they can draw favourable comparisons to their more commercially successful peers The White Stripes. In some ways though, the main Academy is perhaps too big to capture the sweaty atmosphere you'd want from this type of group, and they're careful not to overstay their welcome with a set barely an hour long (including encores). Indeed, diversity isn't their strongest suit and it's the songs from second album 'Rubber Factory' that still resound the greatest - 'Til I Get My Way' in particular providing a single-minded and swaggering climax.

Because of a 10pm curfew (in fact, the show finished 9.15) we have the time to (eventually) find our way on to the Black Horse on Aston University campus to get our first experience of the Kate Finch solo acoustic performance in the flesh. Kate has a few technical gripes to get through but captures and holds the attention with some strident vocals and aggressive guitar playing to a small but absorbed crowd (that includes Phill and the Prykemeister), your correspondent being particularly taken with the live rendition of 'Beauty' (a version of which is available on her myspace page). If you put a jagged blade to Dead Kenny's throat (not that he's inviting, you understand), he'd have to concede he still feels StrangeTime give Kate more opportunity for expression and catharsis than the acoustic format allows, but this summer's solo excursions will do no harm at all for her confidence and stagecraft.

Phill then provides some local knowledge for us to navigate ourselves a shortcut in the direction of the Barfly club night, at which point your correspondent chooses to draw a veil over events lest confessions are heard regarding punching the air and singing along to poodle-permed cock rock calamity 'Livin' On A Prayer'. By Jovi, they don't make 'em like that these days, and that's progress in Dead Kenny's Parallax View.


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