The Wiltern, Los Angeles
May 30, 2012
Jack White's first solo offering, Blunderbuss, is the only album of 2012 that I've liked so far, yet I was ready to be a naysayer last night at the Wiltern.
Maybe it has something to do with the way everybody worships White and his various mythologies (i.e., being in a band with his "sister," committing to a dedicated aesthetic, obsessing over the number three). Or maybe it's the fact that he's the only musical star at the moment that can be credited with being authentically rock & roll. His style appends his music, he is famous because of his music, he works with all kinds of musicians, and not much else (other than music) matters to him. Hence, critics love him, fans worship him, average music listeners respect him.
Whatever it is, every once in a while (because I'm late to Jack White fandom but am definitely an admirer) it occurs to me that maybe White is just a quirky guy who plays great guitar licks who became famous due to a gimmick involving the colors red and white.
Last night, as White traversed through his lexicon of rock via an eclectic set list that was Blunderbuss-heavy yet included hits from his projects the Raconteurs, Dead Weather and the White Stripes,Jack White proved that, it's impossible to write the man off like that. He is a genius, and he really can do no wrong.
Here are the adjectives you want to get out of the way when describing Jack White's solo show: searing, scorching, nuclear. Even when he plays guitar alone White's sound is full and complex; backed by his all-male band the Buzzards--which includes hometown hero Ikey Owens of Free Moral Agents and Mars Volta on keys--the night was a dynamic, riff-driven cacophony of energy.
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White hammered and pounded on Blunderbuss singles "Sixteen Saltines" and "Freedom at 21"; led singalongs for White Stripes classic "Hotel Yorba"; educated the crowd with a version of Hank Williams' "You Know That I Know." He even softened the dynamic with "Blunderbuss." (Not that anything about last night's show was soft: even the sweet "Hypocritical Kiss" had a jagged edge last night.)
In an interview White once said that playing in the White Stripes felt like he was playing in a cover band of his songs. Last night, dressed in all black, White seemed intent on demolishing that feeling. His set list brought back every note, every chord, every word he had written in various projects, and he reclaimed them as his own with a ferocity that gave the audience goosebumps.
The crowd: Worshippy.
Random Notebook Dump: The Wiltern is a shitty venue if you are 5 feet tall.
Overheard in the crowd: "Jack White is way taller than he sounds."
Black Math (White Stripes)
Weep Themselves to Sleep
Two Against One (Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi feat Jack White)
Hotel Yorba (White Stripes)
Top Yourself (Racounteurs)
I Cut Like a Buffalo (Dead Weather)
Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground (White Stripes)
You Know That I Know (From The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams)
We're Going to Be Friends (White Stripes)
I Guess I Should Go To Sleep
Take Me With You When You Go
My Doorbell (White Stripes)
Freedom at 21
Ball and Biscuit (White Stripes)