Thursday 26 July 2012

Review: Jack White

Was I excited? Hell yeah! Did I have particular expectations? Nah.

I am guessing that Tempodrom works better for some performers than for others. For Jack White, it was pretty damn perfect. That's because, ideally, you would want to see this man in a small smokey bar up close. But because fame has graced this talented individual, you have to content with large venues, and as far as large venues go Tempodrom is one of the cosier ones. It's a giant tent after all.
Like I said in my preview, there is a bit of a Jack White fan in all of us, some of you may just not know it. It has been generally agreed that the man is a musical genius, having been honoured in the film "It might get loud", among other accolades. This praise aside, not everyone agrees with his actual songs or, more importantly, with the individual himself. The press usually struggles to make out who this man is. He has publicly received good and bad feedback from band members and staff. He appears to be a notorious liar, making up his own biography as he goes along ("Now, is that his sister or his wife?"). And while he continuously quotes the blues as his major influence, most of the music is rather rock'n'roll and mass accessible.

Although the focus has always been on Jack White himself, he has so far been associated with band projects, namely The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Dead Weather. A solo record was past overdue when it came out earlier this year, but it did make me wonder how he was going to come across on his own. As it turns out, even as a solo artist, Mr White III will perform with a band of 6. And because his session musicians give their all (maybe a little too much at times), you don't actually feel like you are watching a solo artist but are still presented with a full-fletched band.

Not only that, but instead of just playing his solo album and a couple of cover songs (my guess beforehand), he chose to play a best of of his musical career as a song-writer and performer. His newest album, White Stripe hits, Dead Weather material - it was all there, including Seven Nation Army as an encore. This man gives his audience what they want. We were in awe. The sound was of course brilliant, Jack White can sing and play, meeting your highest expectations, and with hit after hit, the relatively long show went by in a dash.

And the professionalism of the performance is awe-inspiring. From the overall set-up, the playlist, the craftsmanship of the musicians, to the small details - this was thought through, planned and delivered to perfection. There was no room for error, not even room for critique it may be too polished. The raw rock'n'roll was preserved albeit all this attention to detail. For example, while the stage presentation had been well designed, it was all "manual", as in no video projections or the likes. Instead, old spotlights, a large white curtain, rotating pillars and the Jack White III logo (three bars over zig-zag lines relating to the III in the name) were used to create a feast for the eyes, everything being drenched in blue lighting. Beautiful.

Of course, this is not the kind of concert that redefines music for you or lets you feel the rawness of punk and rock. This is a professionally delivered performance by one of the most talented songwriters of our time. But that's what you are there for, to witness it, to get a piece of the pie of his magic, and to answer to your grandchildren one day: "Yes, son, of course, I went to see Jack White, and it was wonderful".

As an afternote: Jack White and his tour management ask people not to take pictures but upload photographs of the concert for your to download later. I don't know the actual reasoning for this, but not having hundreds of iphones in your view of the artist is something I can support whole-heartedly. So the pictures in this blog post are from the Jack White website, where you can view more images of the concert if you wish to do so.

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