Monday, May 12, 2014

Live Review: Black Keys @ Ed Sullivan Theater

There has not been a Live on Letterman concert since December, and with the announcement last month that the show's namesake, David Letterman, will be retiring in March, the clock was ticking for the final season of Live on Letterman to come back in full force. Not only did the acclaimed web series make an epic comeback, it shut down an entire Manhattan block in the process.

On the eve of their latest album release, The Black Keys stopped traffic and were the comeback artist for Live on Letterman. Playing on the side of the iconic Ed Sullivan Theater, the Akron, Ohio, duo played a handful of new tracks off their upcoming Turn Blue and classics. While it was never announced that the concert would be a full out block party, it was announced that fans would be seeing two songs taped for The Late Show. As 500 people lined up on Broadway awaiting entry into what they thought was going to be the theater, ended up being 53rd Street and in front of a two story stage erected right on the side of the venue. As 7:30 hit, it went live to the crowd as The Black Keys played "Fever," and "Bullet in the Brain," just like they did on Saturday Night Live a couple nights ago. At the end of their initial two song set, David Letterman arrived on stage to greet the crowd and with thunderous applause, it is becoming more evident that seeing the TV titan in person in his final year that much more special.

After a brief break, the Keys came back and were ready for more. In a 35-minute set that included the two songs they played on The Late Show, even singer Dan Auerbach joked, "Please pretend that you didn't hear these before." Armed with a handful of new songs off Turn Blue, it was the bands greatest hits that were getting the crowd going. Songs like "Gold on the Ceiling," "Howlin' For You," "Tighten Up," "Next Girl," and the epic show closer, "Lonely Boy." With all of these hits over the years it is no surprise that the duo (with a couple backing musicians) are now festival headlining staples and will venture out on an arena tour this fall. While it may have been five months for Live on Letterman to comeback, it arrived with a vengeance with a concert and performance that will be cemented in the history of not just the theater and program, but in New York City music folklore.