Wednesday, November 18, 2009
(Photos by Jon Primm)
As the acclaimed blues-rock duo The Black Keys currently take a break from recording and touring together, both singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have decided to pursue their own side projects. However, to say that Dan Auerbach and his backing band--the Fast Five--are simply a side project would be understatement in every sense of the word. The group, touring in support of their 2009 record Keep It Hid, brings Auerbach's legacy to the forefront--one that attracts an abundance of fans simply on his reputation alone. After playing numerous large festivals this year throughout their constant touring, Dan Auerbach and the Fast Five arrived in Atlanta last night to play at the Variety Playhouse.
Dan opened with the “Trouble Weighs a Ton,” as he sang and played solo on this beautifully weary number. Despite starting with this slower track, Dan Auerbach and the Fast Five were intent on showing off their louder side, as they followed up with a series of blistering tracks including the pounding “I Want Some More,” blues-rock gem “My Last Mistake,” and the swamp-heavy blues of “Mean Monsoon.” With six people on stage, including two drummers, and three other musicians in addition to Auerbach, the group still managed to be quieter than the Black Keys. What lack in loudness was more than compensated for with a fuller and warmer sound that resonated amicably with the crowd.
As the noisier side of Auerbach dominated his performance, he did manage to include a selection of his slower, more introspective pieces, albeit few and far between. “Real Desire” recalls Danger Mouse’s presence on the Black Keys’ latest album Attack & Release as the organ echoes in perfect complement to Dan’s voice. The group’s title track “Keep It Hid” slowly lurked as the song unraveled as an escapist’s anthem of sorts.
What pleasantly surprised the most, however, was the choice of covers throughout the night, and the way in which the group effortlessly transformed the works of others into their own. Dan has been doing this for years with the Black Keys (“She Said, She Said,” “Act Nice and Gentile,” “Have Love, Will Travel”), and continued to show his talent in this regard. Dan and the Fast Five appeared at their most energetic during the Rockin’ Horse cover “Oh Carol I’m So Sad,” the Animal’s “Inside Looking Out,” and with the set-ending Willie Dixon cover “Hidden Charms,” which was transformed into a nearly ten minute procession onstage, as one by one, musicians returned and entered the building groove. After several minutes, Auerbach finally joined the Fast Five on stage, before leading them through their final song.
As Auerbach continues his illustrious career as a blues-rock guitarist, he has slowly started to live up to his aged rasp and weary sound that he has displayed throughout his career. As he continues to grow into his own, Dan moves farther and farther away from the scrawny Akron-originated youth performing the music of his influences, and more towards becoming a peer amongst the blues-rock greats.