Concert Review: The Black Keys at the Madison Theater

Being the next to last show of the tour, my expectations were running pretty high for The Black Keys as they strolled into the Greater Cincinnati area, playing Covington's Madison Theater on Oct. 10.  I can at least say that I have never had quite a concert-going experience like this one.

Openers The Royal Bangs were even better than in Columbus.  The crowd really dug them and you could tell that the band was having a great time onstage.  I hope that they can make it back to the area soon.  I think they would do well at the Southgate House.  

The show sold out earlier in the day and the place was getting pretty tight as the Royal Bangs ended their set.  The lower level was packed and they were only letting people into the area as others left.  It was enjoyable to see the creative ways people were able to get beer back to their friends on the lower level.  Though I did hear more than a few people grumble about never getting alcohol for friends again.  

The crowd erupted as the Keys took the stage a little after 10.  It looked like the band was still in the zone from last night’s show in Columbus.  I did notice that there was a huge cup of tea for Dan to keep his voice going through the night.  Fortunately for him, he didn’t have to wait long for a break.  The fire alarms started going off midway through the second song of the show.  Dan and Patrick looked a little confused but tried to soldier on.  Unfortunately for everyone in the theater, they were not allowed.  The house manager came onstage and told everyone that the smoke machine had set off the alarms and that fire department needed everyone to leave the building.  Even though I knew that there was no danger, I couldn’t help but feel a little insecure as I slowly headed to the main entrance.  I couldn’t even imagine how this would have gone down if the fire were real.

The crowd outside was calmly dealing with the situation.  There were false rumors of police using tear gas and I did see the cops slam a car that was trying to leave from in front of the venue.  Around the 45 minute mark, you could see the crowd getting anxious and some stomped off cursing the band or venue.  I can’t imagine a worse way to kill the mood of a show.  The fire department finally gave the okay and got a huge cheer as they pulled away.  Another 15 minutes of slowly re-entering the venue seemed to suck any sort of energy this writer had for the evening.  It also didn’t help that the band started to play the exact same setlist as the previous night.  I gave myself a few songs, believing that the next one would be the obscure gem that I was dying to hear.  To my great disappointment, they kept playing the same songs.  
The band still sounded great, though it did feel like they were rushing a bit to make up the time.  The crowd was still very much into the performance, but something was missing for me.  The excitement from the previous night was gone.  I wasn’t mad at the venue or the band for what had transpired.  I guess I should have controlled my expectations a little more.  As midnight approached, I figured that I would salvage any joy that I still had and head for home.  I hope those that stayed had a great time. I know that they were witnessing a great performance.  I just didn’t need to see it again so soon.

— words and photos by Keith Klenowski

Find more of Keith's Black Keys' shots here.

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