The Black Keys at the Santa Barbara Bowl, May 4, 2023. | Photo: Carl Perry

The gritty, bluesy rock duo of The Black Keys brought their A-game to a packed house at the Santa Barbara Bowl this week. Fronted by singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, after more than 20 years of playing together, they have a deep and varied repertoire of songs to choose from and they gave it their all to put on a great show for us under a beautiful full moon.

On Thursday, May 4, their setlist included “Your Touch,” “Tighten Up,” and “Gold on the Ceiling,” a rockingly awesome song about the dangers of materialism that brought the crowd to its feet to sing along with a tune that still feels as relevant now as it did when it came out more than a decade ago.

From the the super-bluesy “Just Couldn’t Tie Me Down” to the rowdy and hard-not-to-nod-your-head-to jam “Your Team Is Looking Good” (complete with retro football game videos in the background in time to the ridiculously nostalgic lyrics “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust / You beat everybody, but you won’t beat us”), and the groovy Jimi Hendrix vibe of “Wild Child,” The Black Keys have such a wide ranging and deep list of great songs, I could have happily listened to them play on for hours. 

Not only were my ears exceedingly happy, the notably unusual downstage front-and-center sight of Carney banging away on his rainbow-ringed drum set — literally playing rings around most ordinary drummers — with his unique stick style adds so much to the visual appeal of seeing this band perform live that the well-done video and light show behind them is merely a garnish on this very full plate of entertainment.  

While I did hear some complaints about the short-ish length of the show (they started at 8:15 p.m. and we were out of there well before the 10 p.m. curfew), I heard nothing but raves about its quality. I concur, it was a fabulous show. 

The encore included a terrific cover of “The Letter,” an oldie by The Box Tops and later Joe Cocker, which Auerbach said they were playing live for the first time, along with “Little Black Submarines,” and its memorable lyric that every knows, “that a broken heart is blind,” ending with the drums melting into the guitar licks on their hit “Lonely Boy.”


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.