25 July 2012, Festival Hall, Melbourne
Not many people can, on an average day, have a cheeky chat with Bob Dylan before jamming with The Edge and then play a sold out gig to thousands of people.
Welcome to the life of Jack White, guitarist extraordinaire.
Since disbanding The White Stripes at the beginning of 2011 there has been much hype surrounding his solo record Blunderbuss, which was dropped to rousing applause from most (if not all) reviewers.
Being a massive fan of all projects tinged with the man's guitar and voice, when he was announced as the headliner for 2012's Splendour in the Grass, I began lining up for tickets for the inevitable sideshow.
As I headed into Festival Hall I caught the end of a set from Australian rockabilly princess Lanie Lane, whose singles have been produced by Mr White himself. The last song of her set was her White-produced single "Ain't Hungry".
It wasn't long afterwards when two suited and bearded men took to the stage in order to set up a mountain of pale blue instruments. The vintage guitars that were brought on stage would have made any musician exceptionally excited for the night ahead.
The crowd was a mixed bag of obvious fans of The White Stripes, hipsters and members of the Jack White Fan Club. I found myself in the latter group as I made my way further forward in the crowd.
As the lights dimmed, White's all-female band The Peacocks arrived on stage, attired in vintage dresses and ready to recreate some of White's best work with him in new and fresh fashions.
As the maestro made his way on stage, the entire audience just lost it - myself included - particularly as he busted straight into the vintage White Stripes track "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground", taken from cult classic White Blood Cells. He proceeded to play through a slew of new tracks thereafter including "Sixteen Saltines", a track reminiscent of his garage rock days, and "Missing Pieces" a rockabilly and more down-tempo White-penned track.
From the beginning of his set, White's ability to connect with the audience was on full display. He didn't say much, apart from calling out the tracks that he wanted to play.
One thing about all of White's concerts, which makes them all the more exciting, is that he refuses to play to a setlist, instead playing what he feels is right, yelling out the setlist as he goes.
A highlight of the set was "Two Against One", an unknown Jack White track, from Danger Mouse's album Rome. This is the best part of seeing White solo - he isn't afraid to take from his entire back catalogue of tracks, with not one of his former projects missing out on a mention.
What was obvious as I stood in the mosh pit of Festival Hall was the incredible musicianship on display. The variety of instruments incorporated into classic White Stripes songs was impressive and intuitive.
White wanted the night to get loud, and he made sure we knew that, calling out "it's not a library, I'm not gonna get mad at you". It did get loud, especially as we came to the end of the main set, with some big tracks on offer.
"Steady As She Goes" is the Raconteurs' most acclaimed song, and it turned the moshpit into a sweaty mass of elated fans. Closing the main set with "Ball and Biscuit", a track polled as White Stripes fans' favourite, left everyone happy.
As he came back onto the stage for his encore, it was a soft, delicate rendition of "We're Going To Be Friends" from White Blood Cells that united fans into a quiet lullaby.
There was only ever going to be one way to end the show. It was always going to be "Seven Nation Army", and boy, did he play it. The hall went into a frenzy with a moshpit that would rival some metal bands.
As I left the building, heading out into the rain, all I could hear was a chant mimicking the bass line of White's closing number. If you're off to Splendour on the weekend, it'd be remiss of you not to catch this amazing musician.
4 out of 5.
The Set List
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Weep Themselves to Sleep
I Guess I Should Go To Sleep
Two Against One
You Know That I Know
I'm Slowly Turning Into You
Blue Blood Blues
Take Me With You When You Go
Steady, As She Goes
Ball and Biscuit
Freedom at 21
We're Going to Be Friends
Seven Nation Army
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Articles Written by Fletcher
Reviews written by Fletcher
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