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Jack White - O2, Dublin

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ATL | 12:25 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2012

Photo of Jack White in Dublin


Jack White
02, Dublin
31st October 2012

Twenty-four hours on from being awarded the prestigious James Joyce Award from UCD, there are few events more fitting on Halloween night than the decidedly goth-tinged country blues of bona fide music marvel Jack White. With a back catalogue spanning the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather, his recent solo foray and – lest we dare forget – the White Stripes, the Detroit musician, mentor and mogul has the guts of two decades worth of music at hand for first ever Irish solo show.

With tonight’s crowd coming together around 9pm, the 02 stage is thrown into darkness before White’s six-piece backing band – the all-female Peacocks – surface to practically idolatrous applause. Grabbing his electric guitar with self-contained intent, White tears straight into recent single, the feral ‘Sixteen Saltines’. The crowd response, already totally besotted, verges on euphoric when White Stripes’ classic fuzz-rocker ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’ emerges from the former’s outro. Despite only a minority of the crowd having bothered to don attire for the occasion, there’s already a celebratory mood in the air.

Another new song, ‘Missing Pieces’ quickly follows, White serenely scanning the crowd and unleashing cunning lyrical phrases whilst his band – the courageously masked bassist in particular – attending to every single beat and note. Recent single ‘Love Interruption’ then rears its head, providing an early highlight before the swamp blues of Raconteurs’ track ‘Top Yourself’ sees White rip out an inspired, Jimmy Page-esque solo that only goes to emphasise hismany  years loving and summoning the blues. The song, like much of White’s set tonight, is given extra personality live via the inclusion of fiddle, an instrument White wittily implies his Irish audience tonight “might recognise”.

Shortly afterwards, with the crowd now a huge entangled mass of arms and expectation, a bluegrass rendering of another White Stripes classic ‘Hotel Yorba’ serves as White’s keen wish to “keep it going for old time sake". The crowd are given space to sing the chorus solo and White – all credit to his super-tight band tonight – plays this and all other White Stripes’ singles with the same enthusiasm and might as his solo material. With the crowd mostly none the wiser, a cover of obscure Hank Williams’ song, ‘You Know That I Know’ offers them a chance to a catch their breath before the wonderfully demented one-two of the Dead Weather’s 'Blue Blood Blues' and White’s very own piano-led ‘I Guess I Should Go To Sleep’ makes for an especially forceful peak.

At the end up, with a moshpit-inducing performance of Raconteurs’ hit ‘Steady As She Goes’ and rollicking White Stripes’ track ‘The Hardest To Button To Button’ reaffirming the power of the hit single, White and his band disappear stage right before the inevitable encore takes in three more White Stripes classics: the stripped-back, incomparably feel-good 'We're Going To Be Friends', the frantic garage blues of ‘Ball and Biscuit’ – an outright highlight tonight – and easily one of the most comprehensively crowd-pleasing numbers in modern music, 'Seven Nation Army'. Closing an awe-inspiring, career-spanning, twenty-song set, White exclaims, ‘we don’t wanna go but we’ve gotta go. You’ve been wonderful and I’ve been Jack White. God bless and good night”. Masterful, gracious and captivating throughout, White leaves tonight’s crowd feeling privileged to have spent Halloween night in his company.

Brian Coney




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