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The Black Keys Play Madison Square Garden, Arctic Monkeys Open

Black Keys Madison Square Garden

By MESFIN FEKADU   03/13/12 12:54 AM ET  AP

NEW YORK -- There were few flashing lights, the backdrop wasn't overloaded with visuals or videos, and the band rarely spoke, if it wasn't in song.

The Black Keys are rock stars, and their traditional rock sound electrified Madison Square Garden on Monday night.

The duo performed more than 20 songs in a 90-minute show that was exhilarating, bluesy and loud.

Singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach was top-notch throughout, especially on "Same Old Thing," "Run Right Back" and "I'll Be Your Man." The petite, bearded musician was a monster on the guitar, playing it like a mad man on "Little Black Submarines" and "Lonely Boy," which got the crowd dancing, swaying and jumping around like mad men (and women, too.)

Drummer Patrick Carney was just as good, rocking away as the duo was backed by a bass player and another guitarist, who also played keys.

English rockers Arctic Monkeys opened up for The Black Keys, setting the tone for the night.

The Ohio-based Black Keys have released seven albums since 2002, and they finally struck gold with their last two efforts, 2010's "Brothers" and "El Camino," released in December. They've collaborated with Danger Mouse and Mos Def, and last year won three Grammy Awards.

"We're thrilled to be playing at the Garden," Auerbach said. "Pretty mind-blowing. Thanks for sharing that with us."

The oddest part of the night was when disco balls appeared onstage and at the center of the venue before the duo's encore. Returning, they performed "Everlasting Light," where they sounded vintage thanks to its simple drum beat and Auerbach's high pitch tone. The lights were bright, but the musicians still remained at the core of it all.

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Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him at twitter.com/musicmesfin

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