Jack White covered two hours of ground on his second night at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. With a clean haircut, some new looking muscles and a bruised, rolled ankle from the night before, Jack came out in a flurry — hard, heavy and full of moxie. He rang off hits, from tracks off the new best-selling vinyl record since 1994, Lazaretto, to hitting the spots with White Stripes’ classics like “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” “Hardest Button to Button,” and “Fell in Love with a Girl.” He hit up The Dead Weather’s “Cut Like a Buffalo” and The Raconteurs “Steady as She Goes.” He performed what I’d call ‘shy’ covers of Jimi Hendrix and Sting, although making a point to say he was covering Stuart Copeland and not Sting. Urging people with sons, or future sons, to introduce them first to drummers such as Copeland, Mitch Mitchell, John Bonham and Keith Moon. Stating in essence, if their tastes start there, everything else will fall into the right place (i.e. they will have the pallet to distinguish the best players of all other instruments).
As he took the time to introduce the band with banter, I spaced out in swirls of imagery of what Jack was bringing to my mind. School years of muddy grounds and snow storms, neighbor farmer boys, forts and the conversations then. I think the connection to this music is deepened if you have lived anywhere that experiences the four seasons severely. At that moment, the nostalgia even brought a little tear to my eye. I also had a couple in me.
Jack’s new program has a lot of off-time jazziness, which is a noisier departure from the clean thump of the White Stripes, as you can imagine with a keyboardist like Mars Volta’s Ikey Owens in tow.
After leaving us finally with “Seven Nation Army,” he said goodnight with love, and this is this, and that is that, with the final statement, “and I’ve been Jack White.” I found poignantly put. Born as John Gillis, self-proclaimed “seventh son” (a line from song “Ball and Biscuit”), and suitably dubbed by Rolling Stone as the “Willy Wonka of rock n’ roll” –- Jack White is a character. He can sound like a Banshee with his haunting skreetches or an innocent boy inviting you to go catch frogs with him. Where ever in the spectrum he falls, he is a patchworkin’ revivalist. He is his own man in this world and one of the true Kings of the indie rock movement of this century. I said it!
Curtis Harding, a Burger Records rising artist and on tour in the opening slot, said that this string of Jack White concerts are the best shows he’s seen in his life. Can’t find much about Harding online, but I find his music to be 60’s soul vibes with some 70’s Shaft swagger, dipped in sunshine. (Though the live set had a more rock edge.) The good shit, ya know what I mean? Cool cat. Afro rocker. Nice talking voice too. Harding posted on his facebook earlier that “TOM WAITS was in the house last night..”, he has yet to mention Metallica’s Lars Ulrich paid a visit too, who was escorted out the side door to the tour buses.
Jack’s shows have a strict no photo policy, and the sold-out 8,500 person crowd was instructed not to take out their phones. Jack hired a touring photographer and gives the photos away from each night on his site here. But unfortunately, that doesn’t help us with Curtis Harding photos. See Harding’s video of Keep On Shining and see what you think.