Wednesday night was truly one of the most intense days of my life. I dealt with a whole realm of emotional stress in my personal life, as someone close to me became very ill. I traversed through an emotional landscape, working through various levels of grief, sadness and even anger. After returning home I was left slightly numb. I sat there, on the bed, and pondered about the concert that I was set to see. I even considered not even going. But then I realized I needed it.
I needed to get out, and work through some of this pain. So I grabbed my favorite hoodie, strapped on my Chuck Taylor’s and ran out the door.
As I walked up to Rogers Arena I felt a wave of panic wash over me. It was a strange feeling for me, as concerts have always been a release. Some thoughts went through my head, and I almost turned around. But I fought through it and went inside.
I acquired my wrist band and headed to the floor. I was a little shocked to see how empty the general admission area was. I mean, after all, the Arctic Monkeys were scheduled to take the stage in 15 minutes. Regardless, I found my spot and waited for the night to begin.
As the lights lowered, the crowd surged forward. I quickly found myself pinned to those in front of me. My heart raced, it was time to rock.
Alex Turner, the Arctic Monkeys’ lead singer, and his crew stepped out on to the stage with a calm cool. They walked into place and attacked their set with speed and precision. Starting the night, they opened with ‘Brainstorm’. The energy from the performance swelled through the audience, as we all began leaping around in rhythm. No longer was my ming filled with an emotional mess, I had found the perfect distraction.
The Arctic Monkeys were in great spirits, which helped to build steam in the arena. The mass on the floor was awakened. They were ready to let go and become the music.
I was blown away by the first performance of the night, which contained a staggering 16 songs. This show was definitely a double billing, as opposed to your standard opener/main act setup.
Arctic Monkeys Set List
This House Is a Circus
Still Take You Home
Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
The View From the Afternoon
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
Do Me a Favour
That’s Where You’re Wrong
Brick by Brick
R U Mine?
In between bands, I was able to reach a better position on the floor. I was a mere 10 feet from the front fence, and I was dead center. I stretched my legs a little in anticipation of the inevitable anarchy. I wiped the smudges off my glasses, and then I waited.
Once again the lights were swallowed by the darkness. A backlight revealed the bands silhouettes as they approached the front of the stage. This was all it took. The human sea I was swimming in came alive. As Dan and Patrick of The Black Keys took their positions, the floor before them was a giant writhing entity, waiting on their beck and call. My heart was once again racing, this was about to get really good.
The group opened their night ‘with Howlin’ For you’. Their no hesitation from the crowd, to jump right in a enjoy themselves. Every single person around me, lost their minds, and began screaming. It quickly became the usual mosh pit floor battle as every single person tried to fight their way up to the front and center position.
Many approach the situation from a brute force effort. They push, and claw their way to the front. Using every last bit of energy to get there. The anarchy, swallows up everyone, and we all sink into our primal instinct as the music washes over us, and draws us forward like a sirens call. It is a beautiful aggression to be apart of.
The Black Keys deserve to be where they are. They are an amazing live band. I stumbled around on the floor as I watched Dan Auerbach work the stage, and Patrick Carney man handle his drum kit. They don’t exist in the world of high flying performance, they are musicians and they command your attention with their depth and passion.
The band left the stage, for that momentary pause leading into the “encore”. When they returned a giant 15 foot in diameter disco ball was hanging from atop the stage rigging. They played three more songs, the first of which being ‘Everlasting Light’, which absolutely blew me away. Maybe it was my earlier emotional state, but the song touched me on a deep level. Everyone on the floor slowed down and just watched. I looked back over the arena and their was a see of lighters. The disco ball was spinning and illuminated the venue in a sea of flickering lights. And before me was Dan Auerbach singing this beautiful song in this perfect falsetto. It was the highlight of the entire night. It was at that moment that I was able to reach out and grab the front fence.
The Black Keys Set List
Holwin’ For You
Run Right Back
Same Old Thing
Dead and Gone
Gold On The Ceiling
Girls On My Mind
I’ll Be Your Man
Little Black Submarines
10 Cent Pistol
Encore (with Disco Ball)
I Got Mine
As the lights came up, the floor began to vacate. I sat their drenched in sweat that was, mostly, mine. The roadies came out and started disassembling the stage. One of them tossed me the set list. I walked off towards the exit with a huge grin on my face. This was exactly what I needed. It fueled my love for live music, and it really showed me how much I need it in my life. To the boys in The Black Keys, Dan and Patrick, I just want to thank you. You took a painful day and let it wash away.
Photos of The Black Keys © Jamie Taylor
Photos of Arctic Monkeys © Jamie Taylor