What better way to come down from camping with your best friends during a three evening run of Phish @ SPAC than to step foot into the photo pit of two amazing rock bands?! The Joy Formidable came in to support The Black Keys this Tuesday in the good old Hart-beat (aka Hartford CT) and this girl was on the scene. Not your “traditional” photo pit in that they only allowed us (photogs) access to the GA pit with our cameras. But hey, they gave us a pretty press sticker which I happily accepted and I worked my way through the crowd best I could.
I was slated to see The Joy Formidable open for Foo Fighters back when I started this journey with LMB, but alas, NYC traffic squashed that dream then. But there I was as they took stage this time around and I was amazed! These three mega talents out of London just released their second full length studio album, Wolf’s Law (which I now own on vinyl.) And they couldn’t have been a more fitting band to open for The Black Keys. The beautiful Miss Ritzy Bryan leads the trio with much style and with a rocking voice. Beside her stands the very handsome and animated Rhydian Dafydd, who danced around stage and teased the audience by coming to the edge of the stage with his tongue out, KISS-style. And what is a band without a drum-kit and a gong?! Justin Stahley was there to take care of that. As the sun was setting over Hartford, these three really brightened things up inside the pavilion!
The Joy Formidable Setlist
This Ladder Is Ours
The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade
The stage for The Black Keys was magnificent. Large silver industrial can lights with wire netting over the round white bulbs all set on rows of lighting rigs lining the entire backdrop. There was an enormous disco ball peeking out from the ceiling that was covered up with black draping. The excitement of knowing that that would be a part of the show kept me at the edge of my seat. The boys (Pat and Dan) took stage with two other gents: Guss on bass and John on keys and backup guitar to support the sound. At the onset of it all, we photographers were not allowed shoot the first song. Why? I have no idea. I think the only difference I noticed from the first song to the rest of the show was that Pat took his signature black-frame glasses off after it. Maybe having them on is his super-power?! In any case, they all dove head-first into an amazing set and from songs two through four, me and my camera were happier than a pig in poo!
They opened with “Howlin’ for You” and plowed through all of the hits during their hour and a half (or so) set; “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Strange Times” and “Lonely Boy” to close out the show. At a point in the middle of all of the rock, Guss and John took a breather so Pat and Dan could woo us with their lovely ways and woo us they did. Sometimes there are those moments at a live show when the music seeps into your soul and takes over your senses. During “Little Black Submarines” emotions broke out all over the venue as they said “….that a broken heart is blind.” They started the song out very slowly and quietly for what felt like a few minutes. Mid-song the stage went dark and the instruments silent and then BOOM, a burst of light shot out from the set, the band brought the song back in and rocked it out to the very end. During the entire show, I felt so glad to have been there to see the performance. Dan’s voice and the sound the band emits is timeless. Ages from now people my age will be telling their teenage kids about the awesomeness that is The Black Keys and how they saw this amazing show in Hartford on a random night in the summer of ’13.
They left the stage while all were screaming for more. And then they did it. The disco ball dropped and they melted my little heart with a two-song encore. It began with “Everlasting Light”, and you could quite literally hear a pin-drop in the venue as the disco ball spun around reflecting blue and yellow lights. And then to close things out completely with “I Got Mine” was just the icing on the cake. Well done, boys. WELL DONE!!!
The Black Keys Setlist
Howlin’ for You
Run Right Back
Same Old Thing
Dead and Gone
Gold on the Ceiling
Girl Is on My Mind
Little Black Submarines
Ten Cent Pistol
I Got Mine