Monday, 30 July 2012

Jack White at the Hordern Pavilion, 26 July 2012

 
I've go a confession to make: I used to be a rockabilly. This was when I was about 17 years old, right after a brief gothic stint and just before donning Doc Martens and jumping around to Ska and Punk music. It took me a year or so to figure out that my rockabilly friends not only adopted the music from the 1950s, but also the macho culture and latent racism of this period. But for a while my girlfriend and I were part of this cool gang, clad in leather jackets adorned with the Confederate flag, sticky hair and all; feeling very rebellious and different indeed. Until I understood that subcultures are in a way much more conservative than the mainstream, with their stringent rules about the right clothes, the right hair and the right music. Rebellion? Sure. Individuality? No way.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I'm at a concert again - one that I had been looking forward to for months. The support act is the infectiously cheerful Lanie Lane with her mix of rock'n' roll, blues and rockabilly. And that music takes me right back to these exciting times of carving out an identity, deciding where I want to belong and gradually realising what's important (and it isn't what brand of hairspray you're using).

After this stroll down memory lane allow me to be briefly reduced to a gushing teenager in reliving the amazing two hours that are the Jack White concert. Oh. My. God. What a musician! What a guy! I was never so right in anticipating an event; this is without a doubt the best concert I saw this year, if not one of the best I've ever been to. Jack White is a true rock star. Mysterious, a bit bonkers, it seems, but oh so sexy, and with the most amazing voice and guitar skills.

With his terrific all-male band (alternating nightly between this and an all-female band), he plays songs from his time with the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, and from his debut solo album Blunderbuss, about which I wrote in an earlier blog entry. He starts thunderously with Black Math from his Elephant album with the White Stripes. To imagine the power: With just one gesture you indicate you want the audience to clap, and several thounsand people obediently raise their hands. The contrast between his earlier, explosive pieces like The Hardest Button To Button and his new material as a solo artist is sometimes stark, but White pulls it off as he tackles each song with intense concentration. It is only halfway through the concert that he allows himself a half-smile. He ends the concert with an electric rendition of Seven Nation Army, and the crowd goes wild, shouting the lyrics and roaring the bassline. I'm squeezed in, I am drenched in sweat and my lukewarm beer is sloshing out of my plastic cup as I jump up and down - in short, it is exactly how a great concert is supposed to be.


You might have noticed the slight improvement in the quality of the concert photos (I know, the photos of my rockabilly years are pretty dodgy. They are scanned, but I couldn't figure out how to change the frame. Where is your personal technical advisor when you need him...).
I could claim that I took a proper camera this time and was really, really close to the stage. But I'm just going to admit that I got them from Jack White's official website (jackwhiteiii.com), because we weren't allowed to take photos. I'm sure you're glad.

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