In marked contrast to my last post on Pop Princess Katy Perry, I am shifting over to a musician who has encompassed at one time or another nearly every musical genre other than Pop (and maybe Hip-Hop). My love affair with the multi-talented and ubiquitous Jack White began years ago when I first saw The White Stripes perform “Seven Nation Army” at the Grammys. I was riveted, particularly by the ghostly, yet strangely sexy man partially obscured by his wavy jet black locks. He was electric. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Henceforth began my exploration of The White Stripes. Before I knew it, I’d ordered every one of their albums up to that point (Elephant still being one of my favorites, alongside Get Behind Me Satan). I saw The Stripes in concert at the Greek Theater in L.A. in 2005 ~ they were exponentially more electrifying in person and needless to say, my loyalty as a fan was forever sealed.
Wearing many hats, Jack is far from a one-trick pony ~ he is an accomplished musician skilled in various instruments (most notably guitar), a singer/songwriter, and a record producer. Whether forming other successful bands like The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, producing (and playing on) country stalwart Loretta Lynn’s 2004 album Van Lear Rose or even making the occasional acting cameo in films, there is virtually nothing the man can’t do. And he is clearly passionate about it all, a quality that absolutely comes through, especially in his live performances. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him live on multiple occasions ~ with The White Stripes and with the Raconteurs, including special behind-the-scenes access during the shooting of a Raconteurs video thanks to a friend who was a producer on the White Stripes documentary Under Great White Northern Lights. It was a thrill just to get to watch him at work, in his element, not to mention pretty cool to be in the iconic Capital Records building for the first time ever!
When I learned Jack was touring for his recent (and first ever) solo album release (Blunderbuss), I was of course all over procuring tickets to see him. I repeatedly hit the “refresh” button on my computer as the seconds counted down to the 10:00am Ticketmaster sale time. In spite of being right on the dot with the time, I was still only able to find a single ticket available…in the balcony. It’s one thing to attend a sit-down, mellow concert alone (no problem for me); it’s another thing entirely to attend a show alone you know will be rocking and rolling. But I didn’t see an alternative when the alternative meant not seeing him. So, because I love him that much, I purchased that single balcony ticket, resigned to rock out solo.
As the concert weekend drew near, I saw that he’d added a second night…and through a series of unforeseen circumstances, I wound up NOT going the night originally intended and instead went the second night with the wife of the friend I mentioned above, who not only had infinitely better seats (which got even better as the night drew on ~ more on that in a moment), but who also had backstage passes. Funny how things always work out for the best in the end, right?
Further icing on the cake: In Jack’s current tour, he rotates between an all male band and an all female band. While I’ve got absolutely nothing against a stage full of men, I have to say it was a treat to get to witness Jack’s performance backed by a cadre of feminine energy and talent. There’s something fantastic in the contrast between Jack’s rockabilly sound (and look) and six women dolled up in flowing dresses and tresses. They include a bass player, a pedal steel guitarist, a fiddler, a keyboardist, a back-up singer/tambourinist and a drummer (Carla Azar of Autolux) who (forgive me, Meg) put Meg White to shame! She was outstanding. So much so that at times she actually diverted my attention from Jack, which is saying a LOT. And lucky for Jack, as he was a bit on the hoarse side (hazards of doing back to back shows?), his lovely back-up singer did more than back him up on occasion, at times outright filling in for him, and amazingly, managing to mimic his sound so well there were times I couldn’t tell which of them was singing! Sure, it was a bummer Jack’s voice wasn’t in top form, but NOTHING detracts from his stage presence and guitar skills. That’s his true gift ~ a gift that happily keeps on giving.
The majority of the set-list was comprised of tunes from Blunderbuss, including some of my favorite tracks: “I’m Shakin'”, “Sixteen Saltines” and “Freedom at 21”. And as is often the case, his live performance of some of my lesser-loved tracks off the new album caused me to revise my opinion of them. He also snuck in a favorite Raconteurs song “Steady As She Goes” and, never one to leave his devoted Stripes fans wanting, injected several Stripes standbys as well, such as “My Doorbell”, “We’re Going To Be Friends” and, appropriately coming full circle for me, “Seven Nation Army”. I was a very satisfied girl, particularly once my friend and I got to scootch up to the first few rows for a stellar view that increased my enjoyment of the whole experience even more. There’s really no substitution for being able to actually see facial expressions and sweat ~ without the aid of binoculars. The concert may have been at the Shrine Auditorium with assigned seating, but I can assure you, no one remained seated for long!
In a departure from the red, black and white color scheme religiously stuck to throughout the tenure of The White Stripes, Jack (as evidenced in the photos included here) has veered into black and blues, providing a cool, moody ambience that suits both him and his back-up band. Furthermore, he has ventured from the more typical rock’n’roll tight t-shirt and skinny pants to the more refined look of a pin-striped suit. Classy Jack!
I want to also note how nice it was that there was no opener ~ no incessantly long waiting to get through a band you don’t really care about, then having to wait another half hour or more until the act for which you’re actually there finally ventures onto the stage. Here, when the music started, it went straight into Jack and his gals. That’s just the way I like it!
Jack White has only just begun what I’ve no doubt will be a long and illustrious career. I look forward to ALL that is to come from this enormous and far-ranging talent. Don’t miss the opportunity to see him if you have it. You won’t regret it.