Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

The Black Keys were rolling high in 2014. The duo of singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney scored their first No. 1 album that year with “Turn Blue.” The tour for the album filled arenas like the Forum in Inglewood that fall with fans of their minimalist bluesy rock and roll.

You are watching: The black keys, the forum, november 19

And then they went … away. Auerbach to form the side project the Arcs, do a second solo album, and produce other artists, Carney to do his own production work — a record with singer-songwriter Michelle Branch led to their marriage — but nothing together as the Black Keys.

So when the duo, which this fall released “Let’s Rock,” its first new record in five years, returned to the Forum on Tuesday, they might have had something to prove to the fans who filled the venue. And in the no-nonsense back-to-the-roots style of rock and roll the Black Keys prefer, they did just that with 20 songs — including a pair on which guitarist Joe Walsh guested — over 90 minutes on stage.


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Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Patrick Carney and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Patrick Carney and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Patrick Carney and The Black Keys perform at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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Shannon and the Clams performs at the Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)


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“Let’s Rock” is a return to the greasy blues rock of the band’s earlier albums — no keyboards needed for its tracks — and the six tracks performed from the record arrived in pairs. “Eagle Birds” and “Tell Me Lies” were the first to show up. Fine songs, those two, but still less familiar — and not as catchy — as older hits such as “Gold On The Ceiling” or “Fever” that followed.

“Brothers,” the 2010 album that broke the Black Keys out of indie life into more of the mainstream, also provided six numbers for the show, including “Everlasting Light,” which featured a lovely falsetto and echoing guitar melody. That number slipped straight into another “Brothers” track, “Howlin’ For You” which seemed to jolt the audience out of its laid-back vibe to loudly sing along with Auerbach as he played its sinewy riff on a rectangular Gretsch Bo Diddley guitar and Carney pounded out its heavy rhythms.

There wasn’t a lot of stage banter — simple thanks and introductions — until Auerbach brought out Walsh, the Eagles’ guitarist, who in addition to his solo career also was part of the James Gang, the late ’60s/early ’70s rock band from roughly the same part of Ohio as the Akron-bred Black Keys.

Auerbach explained that when he was a teenager he went to a club near Cleveland and saw a now-obscure guitarist named Glenn Schwartz “blow my 16-year-old mind,” and inspire him to want to be a rock and roll player. Walsh, a decade or two earlier, had had the same epiphany while watching Schwartz, the original James Gang guitarist, and eventually replaced him in that band.

They then played the Schwartz song “Water Street” and the Black Keys’ “She’s Long Gone,” Auerbach and Walsh jamming together and trading off solos to the crowd’s delight.


The rest of the main set flowed quickly, energy high on stage and in the seats, through more “Brothers” songs (“Tighten Up” and “Ten Cent Pistol”), the early basement blues of “Thickfreakness,” and the closing “Lonely Boy,” which wrapped the set with everyone singing along.

The encore delivered two of the strongest new songs, “Lo/Hi,” the first single released from “Let’s Rock,” and “Go,” before sending all back into the Southern California drizzle with “Little Black Submarines,” one of the loveliest songs in the Black Keys’ catalog what with its slow acoustic opening section and ultimate shift into hard rock to the finish.

Opening for the Black Keys were Modest Mouse and Shannon and the Clams. Modest Mouse tends to mix up its opening set dramatically from night to night this fall. Here fans who know the band’s work got terrific performances of numbers such as “Dramamine,” “Dashboard,” and “The Good Times Are Killing Me.” They didn’t get “Float On,” though, and given that it’s Modest Mouse’s one big radio song, that probably disappointed a good number in the audience.

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Shannon and the Clams, alas, were on and gone by the time I made it through rush hour traffic to the Forum, but they’re an Auerbach favorite — they opened for his Easy Eye Sound Revue solo tour in 2017 and he’s produced them too — so that’s a pretty solid endorsement.