The Black Keys at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, NC

The Black Keys @ Coastal Credit Union Music Mark at Walnut Creek | Photo By Mike Paquin

Boogie all you want, The Black Keys deliver too much energy and fun to blackout and miss even a moment of their stellar performance.

The Blackout Boogie Tour featuring The Black Keys and special guest Band of Horses arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina. Right in the middle of their national tour, both bands plus opener Early James delighted a nearly full venue on a hot summer evening with an extremely entertaining setlist of original songs and blistering blues covers all masterfully performed.

Early James opened with a brief six-song set including his single “Harder To Blame.” Signed to Dan Auerbach’s studio label, Easy Eye Sound, Early James whose real name is Fredrick James Mullis Jr., is a relatively young artist with two albums released beginning in 2020. He performed with a strong stage presence and lovable southern personal charm and clearly enjoyed his time on stage. He never took himself too seriously and chose to have some fun including taking time to banter with several audience members about college sports teams from his home state of Alabama. Early James sounded much like a grungy Johnny Cash and laid down a strong blues guitar vibe the rest of the evening would build upon. 

Band of Horses, led by South Carolina-born singer-songwriter Ben Bridwell, received a very warm welcome for their ten-song set. After Ben admitted he overslept and missed soundcheck, Ben and the band immediately kicked into high gear. Clearly still excited after performing in his home state the prior evening, Ben and Band of Horses enthusiastically played favorites “The Funeral,” “Is There a Ghost,” and “Crutch” plus a cover of Brooks and Dunn’s “Neon Moon.” Band of Horses performed like they wanted to stay on stage all night long. Everyone in the band displayed a surprisingly strong rockstar vibe with fiery guitar solos and a little headbanging to open the show by bassist Matt Gentling. They fed on the energy they created in the venue and propelled the audience into a harder and faster groove, creating excitement for the headliner to come on next. 

Opening with “I Got Mine,” The Black Keys took control of the venue like a downed electrical line in a puddle of water. Raw, searing, and dangerous, Dan Auerbach on guitar and Patrick Carney on drums tore a hole in the slightly humid air and brought the venue to an instant fever pitch. Backed by four touring performers who rounded out The Black Keys sound with additional guitar, vocals, keyboard, and percussion the interplay of cool grooves and singable hooks with ferocious guitar attacks were on-point and delivered on all fan expectations.

Playing only a handful of songs from their latest release, Dropout Boogie, The Black Keys pulled predominantly from the middle of their discography and added a significant number of covers from blues legends such as John Lee Hooker and R.L. Burnside. The setlist was a celebration of music, giving fans songs they wanted to hear while celebrating artists the band admired and was influenced by. Kenny Brown, an American slide blues guitarist who Dan cited as changing his life and putting him on the road to where he is today, joined The Black Keys for four songs. Radio favorites “Gold on the Ceiling” and “Lonely Boy” which closed out the show were clear highlights of the setlist.

The Black Keys were a powerhouse from beginning to end, demonstrating the power and emotion of raw blues energy. Delivering nearly 25 songs in total for the evening, The Black Keys produced an amazing show that any music lover of rockin’ blues will thoroughly enjoy.

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About Mike Paquin 26 Articles
Mike is an enthusiast photographer in the Raleigh, NC area with a specialization in live sports, music, and street photography.