Jack White’s sold out nights at Roseland began with a set from the Alabama Shakes, a band making that is making everyone look twice. Alabama Shakes are a gritty rock group led by the powerful vocalist Brittany Howard. If ever there was a risk of going deaf at a show, one from this band could be it. The band didn’t have much space to maneuver with the instruments for White’s band on stage, but from their place rooted front and center, Alabama Shakes proved why they have been getting a lot of buzz, a lot on the back of the song “Hold On” and why they continue to step up to bigger venues. Even after moving off to the side of the stage and under an overhang I assumed would mute the sound, I could still feel the Shakes.
But all of this was a lead up to Jack White, who has just released his first solo album Blunderbuss, after working on several other projects including, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs and, of course, The White Stripes. Along with his label, Third Man Records, White has earned a lot of love and die-hard fans across his numerous projects. To indicate just how much love people had for Jack White, some of them had begun to line up at 6 am in order to get a front row spot on the general admission floor of Roseland Ballroom. They also knew about where to stand facing the stage, so they could see White’s interplay with drummer Daru Jones, and correctly assumed that “Los Buzzardos” would be the backing band (White alternates between a male backing band and a female backing band “The Peacocks” on his album and in live shows). Elegant pale blue sheets matched the frontman’s guitar while accentuating the whites, both in name and color, on stage as spotlights bore the three straight ‘pillars’ of the record label’s logo.
White equally interspersed his set with songs from the aforementioned projects and from Blunderbuss. One of my favorites “Love Interruption” was not performed, but we still got “Sixteen Saltines”, “Blunderbuss” and “Freedom at 21” amongst others. Each demonstrated how solid White is as a musician and a tune-smith.
In terms of the older material, I have not seen any other incarnation of White on stage, but the harmonization of White and Los Buzzardos was evident. White bounded from guitar to piano while giving Jones and the keyboardist (stage left) equal love. They opened with “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” and later added “Black Math” and “Ball and Biscuit” from the Stripes catalog plus “Two Against One” White’s collaboration with the producer Danger Mouse. In his encore, White performed “Steady, As She Goes” from the Raconteurs oeuvre which noticeably lacked Brendan Benson but the musicianship was still top notch. They closed with the solid throbbing “Seven Nation Army” which had the audience chanting (or maybe it was my own voice reverberating inside my head) along. Despite the subdued color scheme, the entire night was overall well balanced but there were frequent volatile chemicals added to mix making White’s solo show singularly unique.
Jack White and the Buzzardos:
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground [The White Stripes]
I Cut Like A Buffalo [The Dead Weather]
Top Yourself [The Raconteurs]
Two Against One [Danger Mouse and Jack White]
Black Math [The White Stripes]
Hello Operator [The White Stripes]
Weep Themselves to Sleep
You Know That I Know [Hank Williams Cover]
Ball and Biscuit [The White Stripes]
Freedom At 21
Steady, As She Goes [The Raconteurs]
Take Me With You When You Go
Catch Hell Blues [The White Stripes]
Seven Nation Army [The White Stripes]