The Black Keys brought out another Ohio-bred icon during their concert Tuesday night at The Forum, the first of two dates the blues-rock duo has scheduled at the Los Angeles arena during their “Let’s Rock” Tour.
Aside from a giant electric chair that towered over the band during their encore performance of “Lo/Hi,” “Go” and “Little Black Submarines,” one of the only notable embellishments of the mostly no-frills set — anchored by Dan Auerbach’s muscular guitar and Patrick Carney’s galvanic drums — came a little over halfway through the show, when Auerbach welcomed Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh to the stage.
“We are beyond honored to have a guest come out and play with us tonight. Someone who we all up here onstage idolized over the years,” said Auerbach while introducing the guitar legend. “Not just because he’s an amazing musician, but because he was from our own backyard, from northeastern Ohio.”
Once Walsh took the stage to a thunderous reception from the crowd, Auerbach launched into a tribute to cult-favorite Cleveland guitar legend Glenn Schwartz, who died last November at age 77.
“Incredibly enough, when I was 16 years old, I went to see this guitar player in Cleveland, Ohio, and his name was Glenn Schwartz. You guys may not know him, but he was really important to me, and he blew my f—ing mind when I was 16,” Auerbach continued, noting that the guitar he held was the same one Schwartz played the first night he saw him perform. “Little did I know when Joe was at an impressionable age, he walked into a bar and he saw Glenn Schwartz and it blew his mind and made him play rock and roll music, just like it made me.”
Walsh — who in the late ’60s replaced Schwartz in the Cleveland rock band James Gang following the latter’s departure from the group — went on to assist Auerbach and Carney in a searing cover of Schwartz’s song “Water Street,” a cut from the guiatrist’s Tolkien-influenced 1976 album For Christians, Elves, and Lovers as part of the gospel-rock group All Saved Freak Band. Walsh remained onstage for a rendition of the Keys’ 2010 track “She’s Long Gone” before taking a bow.
Aside from the Schwartz interlude, Auerbach kept his onstage banter to a minimum, instead letting the group’s music do the talking. The 21-song set kicked off with a lively performance of “I Got Mine” off the group’s 2008 album Attack & Release, immediately followed by two songs from their latest album, “Eagle Birds” and “Tell Me Lies.” That early juxtaposition between old and new set the stage for the rest of the night, which represented a satisfying cross-section of the Keys’ impressive discography.
Auerbach paid tribute to his and Carney’s humble beginnings with performances of 2006’s “Your Touch” and 2003’s “Thickfreakness” — “We’re gonna go down in the basement in Akron and play some music for you,” Auerbach said before launching into the former — though the set leaned heavily on songs from the Keys’ mainstream breakthrough Brothers, with crowd-pleasing performances of tracks including “Howlin’ for You,” “Next Girl,” “Ten Cent Pistol” and “Everlasting Light,” the latter of which saw Auerbach showcasing his quite lovely (if seldom-used in a live setting) falsetto. Other highlights included foot-stomping performances of the glam-inflected “Gold on the Ceiling” and the propulsive three-chord guitar attack of “Lonely Boy,” both from 2011’s El Camino.
In addition to Black Keys forefathers Walsh and Schwartz, Auerbach also took a moment to shout out the group’s backing musicians Steve Marion (guitar), Andy Gabbard (guitar) and Zach Gabbard (bass) as well as his contemporaries/openers Shannon and the Clams — a doo-wop surf-punk outfit signed to Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound — and Modest Mouse, whose loyal following was in clear abundance inside the arena as they performed a groove-worthy set that had the audience on its feet.
I Got Mine
Tell Me Lies
Gold on the Ceiling
Fire Walk with Me
Walk Across the Water
Howlin’ for You
Water Street (w/ Joe Walsh)
She’s Long Gone (w/ Joe Walsh)
Ten Cent Pistol
Little Black Submarines