Posted by: Necci – Oct 09, 2012
Jack White is a lot of things. He is a father. A musician. A businessman. He is mysterious and he is unique and if you ask the right person, he might be classified as the best guitar player this generation has ever come in contact with. But one thing Jack White is not known to be -- unless you know something I don’t -- is a liar.
So when he took the stage in Charlottesville and announced to "all of Virginia" that he was in a great mood, he most certainly meant it. With a smile so wide it could melt even the coldest of hearts, White left his mark on the house that Dave built by doing what he does best - playing rock songs from all four corners of his dramatic career, including cover songs that most of the audience couldn’t properly pinpoint if a gun was pointed at their head.
But when you’re watching an artist like Jack White, it’s not necessarily what they’re singing so much as how they’re singing it. In this case, that meant whether the lyrics coming out of his mouth were originally penned by him or not, White took pride in the fact that his audience sat in the palm of his hand, consuming the audio dinner he had prepared as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks.
When you choose to go see an artist like Jack White, you assume the risk of the show being like a box of chocolates. Much like other artists who have a proven track record of doing as they please during their live show--in line with or completely against the wishes of their fans (Jesse Lacey comes to mind)--White does what he wants, for as long as he wants. With that said, it appears as though a “good mood” in the world of White is another way to tell an audience that he’s feeling a tad nostalgic. For the duration of his 18 song, 95 minute set, White decided to take the road less traveled, revisiting old tunes and pulling obscure cover songs out of his ass, which was appropriately covered with dashing blue pants that looked like they had been painted by whoever is responsible for the cover art on Blunderbuss.
Kicking the set off with “Sixteen Saltines,” White made use of the wide open stage by bouncing from band member to band member (the male group, for those keeping track at home), locking eyes with each one as if to subtly say “let’s take this up a notch.” Take it up a notch they did, as White and his band powered through crowd favorites such as “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” and “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep.” Despite the undeniable energy and a light show that would make Gaga jealous, White did not reach his stride until the first set was nearing a close and he made the decision to dive into “Steady as She Goes,” the Raconteurs 2006 hit that’s just as infectious as it is simplistic. It was this song, which was spontaneously turned into a nearly seven-minute jam, that really caused the crowd to flail and fist pump as they closed their eyes to scream the chorus back to White, who stood at the foot of the stage soaking it all up like a bandana in the middle of July.
After a brief intermission, White returned to the stage for a six song encore that followed the exact same formula as his original set – kicked off by two jams from Blunderbuss, ("Take Me With You When You Go" and "Freedom at 21") followed by two White Stripes songs and two cover songs that most of the audience had never heard before–a fact that became irrelevant once you understand just how enthralled with watching Jack White simply be Jack White the crowd was. After introducing his band members individually and continually thanking the crowd for being wonderful ("It’s been a while, Virginia, but after this I promise I’ll be back soon!"), White shut things down with an appropriate cover of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene.”
But despite White’s most famous song ("Seven Nation Army") being noticeably absent from the set list, I couldn’t find a single person who left with a thing to complain about–something you are almost certain to find if any other artist failed to play the song they were most well known for. But as it is with most things Jack White, the crowd just seemed to feel genuinely blessed to have been given the opportunity to watch an artist like White in his natural habitat. For the first time in a long time, it felt as though White’s show at the Pavilion was about nothing more than the music being played and the connection that music created between an artist and the people that choose to call themselves fans.
It is this connection--one that seems to be often lost in an age of technology--that makes live music such a unique and special experience. It is also a connection that Jack White seems to have a firm grasp on--which, for fans like me, is a truly exceptional thing.
1. Sixteen Saltines
2. Missing Pieces
3. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (White Stripes)
4. Hotel Yorba (White Stripes)
5. Top Yourself (Raconteurs)
6. I Cut Like a Buffalo (Dead Weather)
7. I Guess I Should Go to Sleep
8. Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy
9. You Know That I Know (Hank Williams cover)
10. Two Against One (Danger Mouse cover)
11. Steady as She Goes (Raconteurs)
12. Ball and the Biscuit (White Stripes)
13. Take Me With You When You Go
14. Freedom at 21
15. I’m Slowly Turning Into You (White Stripes)
16. The Hardest Button to Button (White Stripes)
17. Carolina Drama (Raconteurs)
18. Goodnight, Irene (Lead Belly cover)
By Chad Brown