Review: Jack White at The O2 (19/11/14)

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Jack White is probably one of the few remaining maverick figures that we have in mainstream rock music. Whilst everyone else faffs about signing multi-million deals with Apple or producing TV documentaries for HBO, Mr. White sticks to what he does best; playing shows and creating music on exactly his own terms.

He’s not a man interested in a showy display, but in experience. The corporate insignia that usually emblazons the inner walls of the enormo-dome is conspicuously missing and, prior to the headline performance, a man appears on stage to plead with the audience to not use their mobile phones during the show. This is not a night to be remembered through poorly taken photos and drunken tweets, but by being reminded what it’s like to feel alive.

There is no time made for pleasantries before Jack and his band launch in to the energizing jolt of ‘Fell in Love with a Girl’, the crowd instantly unified in movement and excitable singalong. However, it’s only when the title track to his 2014 solo album Lazaretto is outed that the throng become fully mobilized, hurling themselves around to the effortlessly groovy electro-blues omitting from the PA. “This may be an arena show, but tonight this is our little club” Jack remarks on the venue’s gargantuan 20,000 capacity; as the congregation are drawn further in there is not a body in the room that can disagree.

The group breeze through selections from White’s back catalogue, with older White Stripes cuts such as ‘Cannon’ and ‘Astro’ receiving particular adulation. The band demonstrate their all-round virtuosity, toying with tempos at a whim and dissolving tracks in to strung-out jams, all whilst maintaining a disciplined tightness. Though there may not be any visualizations or confetti to gawp at, the sheer proficiency of the musicians at work is enough to leave the masses in awe.

Closing the main set on Raconteurs hit ‘Steady, As She Goes’, White and the gang return for a 9-song encore, initiating with a White Stripes triple-whammy of ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’/’Black Math’/’Ball and Biscuit’; the latter of which propelled the turnout in to a new-found frenzy with White’s tempestuous soloing conjuring a reaction bordering on the primal. With a charged rendition of ‘Seven Nation Army’, Jack and his cohorts bid a final farewell; while there may not have been that much to relish in terms of spectacle, that didn’t stop White and company putting on a show anything short of spectacular.

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I write about music. When not at gigs I like to spend my time being annoyed that I'm not at a gig. UPCOMING // Takedown Festival

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