Monday, October 1, 2012

Jack White at Radio City--More Than Music

Although the Lincoln Tunnel was closed due to an accident and getting into NYC and Radio City was murder last night, Jack White made it worth my time and suffering.

He started his set at 9:00PM with Missing Pieces, a song that seems to be about losing more body parts than just your heart in a bad affair, then burned through his songs like devil was on his ass.  He seemed angry and moody, but his dark vibe and almost frenetic pace made for a hot and riveting concert.

His six piece, all female band is painfully talented. They looked beautiful and made me wonder if they all sold their souls. His Grammy nominated back-up singer Ruby Amanfu swayed and shook her tambourines, and her ringing yet soulful voice was a perfect match to Jack's jagged vocal hammerings.

But as I watched I knew something more was taking place here. Jack White is more than a musician.

During the song Cannon I was taken somewhere else. The hard, heavy, and unrelenting guitar riff was menacing, the stage simply lit in black and white shadows, and Jack's raw vocals transformed the venue into a haunted house, a place of evil and monsters, and it was glorious. The simmering anger you felt in the earlier songs was transformed into a diabolical thing here, and whatever shadowed alley he was going to scurry down--I was going with him.

That was way better than drugs.

He interacted with all six women on stage in an intimate and connected way--his contact seeming to fuel their intensity and dedication to the songs. They watched his every move and the set was flawless.  Ball and Biscuit took the blues to the deepest shade of indigo, and the frenzy of its culmination was a lost-in-space, nerve blasting experience. 

That was way better get the picture.

Everyone in the audience was on their feet from the moment Jack White stepped on stage, until we shuffled out a bit sad that he only played for an hour and a half. He uttered only two words to the audience during the entire show, 'thank you', as he and the band stood close, linked arms, and bowed.

There were no pyrotechnics, flashing images, or opening acts to dilute the music, yet the stark atmosphere induced some type of hypnotic time warp and an almost southern modern-Gothic feel.

Having an eighth row seat gave me the delicious illusion that Mr. White and I made eye contact several times, although I am sure it was my then beat-addled brain sending cosmic wishes to my rapidly pounding heart.

I have a weakness for talent: an extraordinary ability to draw, paint, play guitar, articulate, create mood, write, or influence people. The ultimate is a mind-blowing combination of two or more of these talents, and that is what I experienced last night.

I wanted him to talk to us, his audience, to give us a hint of his humor, thought process, or just for him to speak to let us know he was human. But then the odd, blurry feeling may have been lost, and the night would have taken on an entirely different feel. In a blustery, pissed-off way, it was perfect.

Too short? Yes. But, oh, so sweet...

His set from last night:

Missing Pieces
Weep Themselves to Sleep
Love Interruption
Hotel Yorba (White Stripes)
Top Yourself/Maggie's Farm (Raconteurs)
Cannon/John the Revelator (White Stripes)
Screwdriver (White Stripes)
Rock Island Line
Blue Blood Blues (The Dead Weather)
Trash Tongue Talker
Papa Was a Rascal (James Booker cover)
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (White Stripes)
I'm Slowly Turning Into You (White Stripes)
We're Going to Be Friends (White Stripes)
Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy
Hypocritical Kiss
Ball and Biscuit (White Stripes)


Freedom At 21
Sixteen Saltines
Seven Nation Army (White Stripes)
Goodnight, Irene (Lead Belly cover)

Page from 100 Unfortunate Days that shows my soft-spot for guitar players:

Day 93

I was born in Venice on the Fourth of July—which means nothing to anyone in Venice. I had with jet-black hair and very light blue eyes. Then all my hair fell out and grew in very light blonde. My eyes have remained light blue. I was left on a ferry boat when I was three months old—I don’t know if it was on purpose or not—but I was raised covertly by the Queen of England until I was five, then she could not keep me under wraps anymore because I moved around too much and she felt I should be going to school.

I was sent to stay with the Queen’s illegitimate sister who lived in France. She taught me how to play the guitar and wear makeup. I stayed there until I was eight and then I worked in a coffee shop and slept there at night next to the picture window that had a toile cushion beneath it. No one minded. I ate small sugary biscuits with tea or coffee every day for breakfast and wrote sad love songs until I kissed a boy. I got a tattoo of his initial on the underside of my middle finger and never told him. I left the lyrics to a song on a table outside the coffee shop one afternoon and could not find them later that afternoon. I heard a song on the radio a year later that used my lyrics. I never told anyone.

I took a train to Germany and dyed my hair jet-black again. I had five children in five years and gave them all away to charity. I worked in a guitar shop and met Jimmy Page and we spent the night together. I got a tattoo of his initials on the underside of my middle finger of my other hand and swore my love to him eternally. He said he would love me forever too.

I stayed awake once for three days because I was sad. I moved to Spain because I needed to be warm and painted my front door a different color every day. My skin loved the sun and the black faded from my hair. I wore jewelry with diamonds and flowers in my hair. When I looked at the sky at night I could see the face of my true love who I knew I would never meet. Sometimes I see children with light blue eyes and jet-black or light blonde hair and I know they are mine. I never say anything.


  1. Ahhh I'm so jealous, that sounds fantastic. Glad you had a fun time and got to hear some great tunes.

    1. It was pretty awesome I must say.
      Got some pics (not very good) and a bit of video (very bad).
      But he is quite the talent...
      Glad he came around again--I was sad last summer when I missed the concert in the park.
      Thanks for popping in!

  2. Sounds like a great concert. My ear drums don't envy you, but the rest of me does. :)

    Jack White sure knows how to tap into his inner turmoil. Love Interruption is one of the more powerful songs I've heard in a while.

  3. What a great way to put it! And yes he does...
    I could not wait was hoping he would sing Love Interruption, and he did--it was gorgeous. She can really sing too.
    I loved every second of it.
    Thanks for stopping in :)

  4. I'm not a Jack White fan, but I have great respect for his talents. Sounds like a great show. I typically enjoy a bare bones concert stripped down like that. Awesome! Great blog...felt like I was there.

    1. Thanks Brooklyn :)
      I like that too--and on the other side of the coin I love that over-produced feel too.
      This one was a strange combo of both--well, compared to the White Stripes, his original band, LOTS of things seem over-produced :P

  5. Great post! Sounds like a great show!

    Paul R. Hewlett

    1. Thanks Paul.
      It really was, and I am a rabid fan.
      Already waiting for more from him.

  6. You capture the dark, erotic, compelling, driven, lyrical and mind-blowing essence of Jack White's music perfectly. I wish I could have been there. Thanks for sharing!


  7. Thanks Aniko!
    I wish you could have come too! (One of the disadvantages of having such a large nation :P)
    Geez--he really is compelling...I had to force myself at times just to look at the other band members so I would not regret missing them!
    In my weird Jack White dreams he will read this bolg too.
    Thanks Aniko!


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