Jack White Turns Up the Volume at Live 105's Not So Silent Night, 12/7/12
By the time 10:45 rolled around and Jack White and his all-female Peacocks took their immaculate, white-floored stage, the night was overdue for some Actual Rocking. And the band delivered. They ripped into "Freedom at 21," with White laying down a highly flammable guitar solo at the climax. Then it was straight into "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," which sounded muddy and a little flubby but still way more exciting than anything that'd come before. And so proceeded a set heavy on White Stripes classics, a few Raconteurs and Dead Weather entries, and highlights from White's latest solo album, Blunderbuss, which is definitely the finest set of songs he's ever released without Meg.
Gil Riego, Jr. Jack White. Slideshow: Not So Silent Night Photos
It wasn't perfect: White's vocals were as yelpy and uncontrolled as we've ever heard them, and the boomy interior of the arena didn't help make them discernible. The six Peacocks added gorgeous layers to some of the White Stripes material -- particularly "Hotel Yorba," where the fiddle and pedal steel guitar made the song feel more countryfied than ever -- but also muddled some of the dynamic brutality of others.
Still, by time the encore came around, and the band leapt from a full-heft take on "The Hardest Button to Button" into the Dead Weather's "Blue Blood Blues," then a bit of "Ball and Biscuit," we were about to get down on our knees and thank the gods for the un-ignorable performance of White and the Peacocks. At the end, with the cut-off point for his set having come and gone, White picked up a detuned jazz-box guitar and set off into the slinky stomp of "Seven Nation Army." It seemed like everyone still left inside was standing up as the band pounded through the 'Stripes' most recognizable single. And White, distant-seeming for most of the show, finally started to behave like a regular rock star, pressing the crowd for applause and making everyone sing the line about the Queen of England and the hounds of hell. A few minutes before midnight, the concert ended like a rock show should, with a ringing, dirty power chord and ribbons of feedback. What a relief.
Gil Riego, Jr.
Slideshow: Not So Silent Night Photos
The drink situation: I had a $10 Bulleit and club soda that tasted like plastic, but hey, it was only $10!
Personal bias: I must admit finding the obsessiveness of White's stage setup -- white flooring, vintage instruments that look more like set pieces than music tools, and crew members dressed in suits and fedoras -- a little off-putting. The man criticized Gaga for pursing "image for the sake of image," but then what's his carefully constructed image for?
Re: the Shins: If I was hard on them, it's 'cause I feel like they haven't had a real pulse since Chutes Too Narrow, and I miss it! Mr. Mercer, can't someone bring you a cup of coffee?