O2 Arena – 19th November
“Experience the performance with your eyes and not through a small screen”. The anonymous crew member voiced Jack White’s, and millions of other’s – including myself – opinion on how we should be experiencing music today. White is often misjudged through the bewildering perception of the media as a result from his controlling nature and bursts of anger. Where you should really judge him is not through this dirty lens, nor through the eccentric landscape of his recordings, but through the live performance he pours his soul into.
Before the show, the crew member came onstage asking the audience to put their mobile phones away for the gig. This request has previously been portrayed as ‘too controlling’ but I personally felt a great sense of relief knowing there wouldn’t be a hundred rectangular backlights gleaming before my eyes when the curtains fell. Thankfully, there was only about ten.
Bursting into the cool blue doused stage, White starts the show with garage revival classic, ‘Fell in Love with a Girl’. Cigarette chaining, Telecaster wielding, you felt like you’d been transported to some alternate neo-noir dimension where the sun burns blue. Thirteen years back into the present and the band roll onto ‘High Ball Stepper’ and ‘Lazaretto’, assuring you there is no confusion in what both White and the audience want. From singalong classics like ‘Hotel Yorba’, to foot stomping fan favourites ‘Astro’ and ‘Apple Blossom’, to the catchy ‘Steady As She Goes’ and stadium anthem ‘Seven Nation Army’, it was a set list to please all. Understandable reluctance aside, ‘Seven Nation Army’ was filled with the wild energy you wouldn’t get from any other number one hit artist; improvisations and slips added the right amount of true flavour you would gladly expect from a Jack White gig.
The band line-up consisted of familiar multi-instrumentalists, all of who performed without a hitch: long-time music colleague Dean Fertita on the keyboards, Fats Kaplin on pedal steel guitar, Lillie Mae Rische masterfully rocking the fiddle, Dominic Davis on bass, and Daru Jones beating the shit out of the drums with equal passion and precision as White on his signature fuzz mashed guitar. Jones truly did step up to the game and quite literally never stepped/sat down; furiously beating away, eyes fixed on Jack watching for every improv. Rische’s violin playing beautifully filled the stadium during soulful steady tracks like ‘Temporary Ground’. Dual vocal tracks also resonated with just as much elegance and soul on the likes of ‘Love Interruption’. Although, White’s distortion on tracks that are simply born too savage for violin did sometimes overwhelm the fiddle playing.
There’s something incredibly soul destroying watching a person record a whole event on their mobile, missing the experience with their own eyes. The need to brag, gain likes or even make money out of a recording at the cost of missing out on an experience that makes you feel something real – something you can’t capture in a shoddy video. For me, the gig will always be there in my mind, getting all the likes off my dopamine levels whilst I know there will be somebody, somewhere in our western world waiting like some paparazzi vulture, ready to get that absolute “amazeballs” selfie at a Jack White gig. Let me assure you that it is not the death of music, just a generational misstep that’s lingered around far too long.