Posted on 5/25/2012
Jack White returned to the Ryman Auditorium once again to thrill his many Nashville, TN fans for two Sold-Out shows, Tuesday 5/15/12 and Wednesday 5/16/12. Jack White’s current tour provides music from his solo efforts as well as his other musical projects which he has created. Concert Blast friend (and huge Jack White fan) was lucky enough to purchase a ticket for the Tuesday night concert (both shows sold out in about 10 minutes) and wanted to write a review for us. We gladly accepted. Enjoy the Jack White concert review provided by Terri Gibson.
Written by Terri Gibson
A haze of excitement hung over the auditorium of one of the most famous venues in America – The Ryman. Thousands of people gathered in the Mother Church of Country Music to a sold-out show of Jack White with the Alabama Shakes. People came from all walks of life and had one thing in common – the love and appreciation of music. As a music lover, what fascinates me most is when an artist comes along and you sense beyond a doubt that their talent is not just ordinary; it’s a gift. I’ve often wondered how one person can write songs, music, and play several different musical instruments (guitar, piano, drums, mandolin….); be in three different bands, run and own his own record company/studio; collaborate with several well-known recording artists, and embark on what is definitely already a fascinating and successful solo career. Jack White is truly gifted and a master of his craft. This was proven once again on Tuesday, May 15 at The Ryman; kicking off his Blunderbuss tour.
The opening act was a band which has recently gotten a lot of attention, the Alabama Shakes from, where else – Alabama. Formed in 2009, the group consists of lead singer and guitarist, Brittany Howard, guitarist, Heath Fogg, bassist, Zac Cockrell, and drummer, Steve Johnson. Howard belts out vocals that are likened to that of Janis Joplin, while the rest of the band grinds out a mixture of Southern rock, soul, blues and garage rock. The crowd came alive when the band appeared on stage; and the audience was familiar with several of their songs which indicated a large fan base. A crowd favorite was “Boys and Girls”, as well as “Hold On”. Since I had never heard this band before, I do not have any past experiences to compare, but I found myself singing and dancing along. However, the show was scheduled to start at 7:30, and ended up starting at 7:45. There was no interaction with the audience such as prompting the crowd to clap, sing along, or finish the chorus to a song. Due to these factors, I will give them an 8.0 on a scale from 1 – 10. I did appreciate their ability to transition well from one song to the next. And I loved their soulful expression. I can honestly say, I am a new fan of the ‘Shakes. If you enjoy a soulful, classic rock sound with powerful lyrics and vocals, then Alabama Shakes is worth checking out.
Jack White has once again reinvented himself while keeping with his usual ambience of mystery and intrigue. Rather than relying on one band, White has formed two bands, (one all male – Los Buzzardos, and the other all female – The Peacocks), to back him on the album and when playing at live venues. This definitely keeps things from becoming routine and brings a different sound and style to each song. White has said in several interviews that he decides over breakfast on the day of each show, which band will perform first. I was hoping to hear the Peacocks play this evening, because I was looking forward to seeing female drummer, Carla Azar. Los Buzzardos were apparently decided over coffee and eggs on this morning that they would take the stage this evening. Nonetheless, I was still excited and knew I would not be disappointed. Before Jack and his band could come on, White’s roadies took over immediately after the Alabama Shakes left the stage. Dressed in black suits, fedoras, and powder blue ties, they looked more like undertakers than the traditional rock roadies. The stage had powder blue coverlets over the drums, keyboards, and steel. Even the stage lighting gave off a blue cast, which is now Jack’s new signature color for his tour.
While waiting, I looked up and saw Wynonna Judd, and a few other people I assumed were her family, walk by. They took their seat two sections over from me. A few people went over and asked to have their picture taken with her, and she was more than willing to oblige. Since this was probably a once in a lifetime occurrence, I mustered up the courage to have my photo snapped with her too. She was very nice and didn’t seem to mind.
At 9:00, Jack and Los Buzzardos came out and the crowd went wild. Everyone jumped to their feet as Jack belted out the opening to his White Stripes hit, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”. White’s stage antics remind me of Elvis Presley. I wouldn’t call him “Elvis the Pelvis”, as Elvis was nick named, rather, they are both similar in allowing the music to lead them and putting their heart, soul, and bodies into it. Next was, “Missing Pieces”, which is from the Blunderbuss album. The overall theme of the album tends to focus on lost love and broken relationships. To cite one genre would not do the album justice since several elements are blended into each individual song. Los Buzzardos consist of a drummer, mandolin player, steel player, upright bassist, and piano/keyboard player. Jack of course played guitar throughout and displayed his talent on the piano during several songs. Another hit from the album, “16 Saltines”, is a song that has been compared to The White Stripes’ sound. White doesn’t disappoint on this hit with his razor sharp guitar chops and licks. Next was “Make Them Weep”, followed by “Hotel Yorba” (Stripes’), “Top Yourself” (Raconteurs), and my personal favorite, “Hypocritical Kiss” which features a churchey piano sound. Another Stripes’ song, “Black Math” was played but with a different tempo than the original. White then displayed his talent on the piano with the hip, boogying “Trash Talker”. New life was breathed into the Hank William’s song, “You Know That I Know”, followed by another Stripes’ song, “We’re Going to be Friends” that the audience sang along with. The Dead Weather hit, “Cut Like a Buffalo” transitioned into a bluesy intro to “Ball and Biscuit”. White and his men then left the stage, and the crowd clapped and chanted wanting “More!” However, this was not the end of the show but the end of the first set.
After a brief intermission, Jack entered the stage having changed from his brown jeans and military-ish jacket to don black jeans and a short sleeved t-shirt. He started off the second set with another Stripes’ favorite, “Doorbell” which got the crowd going once more. Next was another Blunderbuss favorite, “Freedom at 21”. This was a pre-released single on a flexi-disc via helium balloon at Third Man Records on April 1. Those fortunate enough to find one have quite a collector’s item. A few have made their way on E-bay, the highest bid fetching a price of $4,238.88! Things slowed down a little with White’s love ballad, “Blunderbuss“, which seems to hint at sentiments about a love from the past (Meg, perhaps?). White has collaborated with many artists by singing, writing and producing. One of those songs from 2011 was with artists Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, “Two Against One“; a personal favorite of mine which White and his band pulled off beautifully. He then broke into a slow, sultry bluesy intro to another Stripes’ hit, “Catch Hell Blues“. White nailed it with his sharp as razor guitar riffs and vocals. The Raconteurs hit, “Steady as She Goes“, got everyone dancing and singing along. Jack then wowed the crowd once again with his fancy piano work on “Take Me With You When You Go“. The song starts off with a mellow jazzy piano, drums, organ and fiddle; then breaks into White’s trademark jagged guitar solo, and mounting to high pitched stacatto-like vocals, before ending on a mellow note. “Carolina Drama“, another Raconteurs favorite, got everyone excited as White prompted the audience to help sing along as well as finish the ending of the song. The show closed out with an appropriate Leadbelly cover, “Goodnight Irene“. This was a very entertaining show, which ran two hours long and was definitely worth it.
My last concert at the Ryman was in September 2011 when The Raconteurs played. I was impressed, and gave them a 10 on the Concert Blast Rating Scale. Although I do not retract that rating, I must say, I was more impressed with Jack White and Los Buzzardos. He engaged the crowd, encouraged them to sing along throughout the show, and gave testimony to how much he loved Nashville and was “glad to be back home again”. Several years ago, White said in an interview with Charlie Rose that he does not have a set list during a live show, he simply “wants things to be different and to happen.” This spontaneity is evident in how he communicated to his band throughout tonights show;
everything came together and worked beautifully. My only personal disappointment was that I’d hoped The Peacocks would come out to play the second set. I was looking forward to seeing White perform “Love Interruption” along with backup singer, Ruby Amanfu. However, that does not alter my opinion in the quality of the performance.
My rating of the show is a 9.0. I think the transition from the first half of the show to the second half could have been a bit quicker and smoother, because there was confusion among the audience and myself included. Everyone seemed to believe that he would be coming out for an encore of two to three songs rather than an entire set. Not really a big deal, but just a bit confusing.
Jack White didn’t really have to prove to me that he could stand on his own as a solo act. Blunderbuss surpassed my expectations because it shows a more grown up and sensitive side of White that was never really revealed before. I enjoyed a recent interview White had with Josh Eells of the NY Times, in which the subtitle read “Jack White is the Coolest, Weirdest, Savviest Rock Star of Our Time”. With a title like that, I wouldn’t say Jack White has finally arrived; rather, he’s been there. And he just keeps getting better and better.
Written by Terri Gibson