Jack White Fox Theater 6/12/14
About 15 minutes before Jack White took the stage, a snazzily dressed gentleman came up to address the crowd. Presumably an edict from the man many call the Willy Wonka of rock, White's representative urged the crowd to put down their smartphones and instead of reliving the evening at a later date or to show off the night's action to their friends, to enjoy the moment they're in right now. There are few musicians these who could make a proclamation through a proxy and have it be obeyed. Jack White is in that select group.
Even with the stray smartphone that captured the action, the rocker's two-hour set was full striking bombast. If this were a boxing match, the first part of the evening was White landing body blow after body blow, before unleashing a series of uppercuts and strong right hooks as the night wore on. White's smattering of guitars unleashed a thunderous version of the blues that's as gritty as it is salacious. Combine that with a ferocious backing band that's able to meet the guitarist's distinct musical needs, that manage to blend blues, alt rock, rockabilly and country, you have the recipe for a set that's eclectic as the singer's back catalog.
Once upon a time, there was the occasional rock feud to spice up the music tabloids. And the Nashville-dwelling, Detroit-bred is no stranger to feuds. Beginning with him brawling with the Von Bondies singer Jason Stollsteimer in a Detroit club over 10 years ago to his spat with the Black Keys, White's intensity has been well-documented on and off the stage. Off-stage misgivings aside, the evening which saw White on best behavior, allowing fans to bask in his music that spoke louder than the venom thrown at his perceived competitors.
Yet, for a guy whose mysterious aura with the only comparison being Bob Dylan of the late-'60s/early-'70s, White is as comfortable on-stage as he's ever been. There were a few times when even the plaid suited singer made the make-some-noise-I-can't-hear-you gesture to the crowd, something that demonstrated his comfort as being one of the last guitar heroes left in rock. Other than the few random things he'd say over the night, like how he was supposed to play Pomona, but instead was booked to play Pomona, MT instead, making for a long drive from San Diego and a brief ramble about Harry Houdini, White let his music do the talking.
At this point in his career, White is known for his eccentricities as he is his music. But his music has stayed remarkably consistent during his brief solo career. Lazaretto was released earlier this week to much fanfare, with Tuesday's show at the Fonda broadcasted on NPR. Yet his delightful genre-bending has come to define him as much as anything else. Few, if any people could produce and command the respect of a country icon like Loretta Lynn and rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, then play in a band like Dead Weather or The Raconteurs no one bat an eye. That's respect, and it's what, antics aside, makes Jack White such a beloved figure amongst music fans.
With fury of "Ball & Biscuit" and "We're Going to Be Friends," the crowd was treated to a different set with fewer songs than the first two nights, albeit a much jammier one took its place. By the time we reached set closer "Seven Nation Army," the anthem that propelled Jack White from underground rock favorite to international icon. With the Fox roaring like it was the L.A. Coliseum on game day, and as the crowd providing bombastic melody, White couldn't help but grin in between shreds, proving that one of the toughest guys in rock does have a soft spot for being appreciated.
The Crowd: A drunk was following me and others around all night giving us fist bumps and high-fives. Dude, if you're reading this, get it together, man.
Random Notebook Dump: Most of the intro music was rap. Then White came out to the Beastie Boys' "Sure Shot." What a badass.
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Check out the full setlist below Set list: Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (The White Stripes song) High Ball Stepper Lazaretto Hotel Yorba (The White Stripes song) You Know That I Know (Hank Williams cover) Freedom at 21 Hypocritical Kiss That Black Bat Licorice Three Women Top Yourself (The Raconteurs song) Icky Thump (The White Stripes song)
Encore: Missing Pieces Ball and Biscuit (The White Stripes song) I'm Slowly Turning Into You (The White Stripes song) Hello Operator (The White Stripes song) We're Going to Be Friends (The White Stripes song) Love Interruption Steady, As She Goes (The Raconteurs song) Seven Nation Army