American blues-rock duo deliver a technically excellent but atmospherically lacking set
The grand finale of Latitude’s Obelisk stage offerings was a headline show by Ohio duo The Black Keys. I’d rate the show 3 stars, and it’s taken me a while to figure out why I can’t bring myself to score higher. Flawless high-energy blues-rock musicianship? Check. Set-list packed with popular hits? Check. Engaging stage set and rock star lighting arrangements? Check. Excited, good humoured, enthusiastic crowd? Check. Warm atmosphere, crowd engagement, on-stage banter or chit-chat? Uh-uh.
Being a huge fan, I saw the band at Glastonbury this year too, and the experience was identical. They sound amazing. Lonely Boy, Next Girl, Gold On The Ceiling, Fever, delivered one after the other without a note out of place or a drum out of beat. And the crowd were gagging for it, bouncing along in unison as per protocol. Close your eyes and you can imagine you’re having a thrilling blues-rock adventure – but sadly, in actual fact you’re standing in a field listening to a highly professional, robotic offering which feels dutiful in its delivery. Which is a real shame.
The band hardly connected with one another during the entire gig, less so with the crowd. Between songs the lights went out, the music died and we were left making small talk for a minute or two before it all fired up again and the next internationally acclaimed hit was reeled off. Fair enough, they are all about the music and all that – but as a headline act on the final day of a huge festival, surely you have a duty to be about more than that.