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Jack White at ease with his rockstar status at the ACC

Posted by Wini Lo / August 1, 2014

Jack White TorontoThat Jack White is a bona fide rock star. Among other things: producer, album label mogul, entrepreneur, occasional actor, unsmiling baseball game attender - but make no mistake, none of those aspects of Jack White precede his status as a full-on rock star.

Jack White TorontoI'll admit it: Jack White as a solo artist doesn't hold the same magic or allure that the White Stripes once had, when they were still a fledgling band. For me, the magic was in the simplicity of Meg White bashing away on the drums with childlike abandon, paired with Jack's impressive guitar work and blistering vocals. The dueling intensity between Meg and Jack was key, along with their overall ramshackle vibe.

Jack White TorontoCut to last night at the Air Canada Centre, where Jack White was backed by a tight, incredibly talented band - it was without a doubt, a slick, unabashed rock show. I've gone from seeing the White Stripes at the Kool Haus (which isn't even that small a venue) to Molson Amphitheatre, and White never looks out of place on a big stage.

He commands the stage like a natural frontman. The crowd was endlessly roaring, cheering and applauding so enthusiastically that I think if White came out on stage and just noodled around on his guitar for an hour, they would still eat it up with the same fervor.

Jack White TorontoAs a self-confessed White Stripes fangirl, I've spent an embarrassing amount of money collecting their massive back catalogue of 7-inch records, various paraphernalia (um, I have a Jack White USB key) and yes, I've visited the Third Man Records shop in Nashville, Tennessee.

I don't claim to be the biggest fan by any means, but the White Stripes were definitely one of my big favourites for a period of time. Part of me continues to follow Jack White's career out of loyalty to the White Stripes. But the Raconteurs, Dead Weather, and White's solo stuff just don't really do it for me.

Jack White TorontoSo, it'll come as no surprise when I say that the highlights of the night for me were the White Stripes songs - the last time Jack White played Toronto, in 2012 at the Sony Centre, I remember feeling like the full-band rendition of White Stripes songs were too slick-sounding and in turn, missing that essential simplicity of just guitar and drums.

Jack White TorontoThis time around, I was more prepared and accepting that Jack White-as-a-solo-artist's versions of White Stripes songs aren't going to sound like the White Stripes playing White Stripes songs. He and his band transformed classics "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," "Hello Operator," and "Seven Nation Army" into rousing arena rock anthems, complete with audience singalongs, guitar solos, fake endings and fist pumping. Oh yeah, so much fist pumping.

White brought some lovely country and bluegrass twang to "We're Going To Be Friends" and "Hotel Yorba" (and he even mentioned Stompin' Tom Connors, bless him), which were probably my favourites from the set list. There were moments where White would share a mic with violinist/vocalist Lillie Mae Rische that were reminiscent of the onstage intensity with Meg White back in the White Stripes days.

Jack White TorontoI won't deny that Jack White puts on a fantastic rock show and is exceedingly good at what he does. He may even be a legend in the making, if he continues to excite fans and evolve as a musician and music industry figure in the years to come. Me, I'm fine a bit stuck in the past - I'm probably always going to be that girl in the audience who says, "I'm really just here for the White Stripes songs."

Set list

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
High Ball Stepper
Hotel Yorba
Temporary Ground
Weep Themselves to Sleep
Missing Pieces
Apple Blossom
The Rose With the Broken Neck
Just One Drink
You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)
Top Yourself
I'm Slowly Turning Into You


Icky Thump
Ball and Biscuit
Alone in My Home
We're Going to Be Friends
Love Interruption
Steady, As She Goes
Hello Operator
Would You Fight for My Love?
That Black Bat Licorice
Seven Nation Army

Writing by Wini Lo. Photos by David James Swanson.



James / August 1, 2014 at 01:30 pm
I was there last night and it was awesome! Never miss going to a Jack White show (Be it solo, or The Raconteurs, Dead Weater or whatever else he may come up with)it's always a great experience.
Ell / August 1, 2014 at 09:58 pm
On the other side of town, snake charmer Nick Cave put on a magic show. Why oh why were these 2 scheduled the same night??
Apsley Dood / August 1, 2014 at 11:06 pm
Had never heard about Jack until seeing him on an episode of American Pickers and then 'discovered' he was at the root of the greatest riffs of all time, just an
average Detroit kid with outstanding talent and ability . . . . and cool enough to blaze his own path and destiny.
Amazing Bio, hugely skilled and yet so modest and down to earth? Did not know that was even possible?
As you may have guessed, i'm a way old dude and Jack's music rocks to the heart of R&B and real rock.
lola / August 2, 2014 at 02:14 am
Jack White already is a legend!
I've seen him live a couple times and am always blown away at how effortlessly he can play that guitar. He's awesome.
Clayton S / August 3, 2014 at 01:33 am
I think, after hearing the traditional two-piece versions of The White Stripes' songs for many years, that the new, more instrumentally varied versions actually freshen them up a bit. Plus, in a two-piece, he wasn't always able to showcase his guitar-playing ability to the utmost, because he had to keep the basic melody going, alternating between lead and rhythm. Now he's got Fats Kaplin playing some steel pedal guitar in the background, and he can deviate whenever he wants. Plus, I'm really down with guitar solos becoming guitar/fiddle solos (particularly on tracks like I'm Slowly Turning Into You). Daru Jones completely rocks on the drums, and the current unit (who I hope he sticks with on the next tour) is really intuitive when he takes a sudden detour (even more so than Meg often was).

He's actually been getting the best (live performance) reviews of his career on this tour, and they're well-deserved. And let's never forget: he didn't kick Meg out of the band, she quit. I think Lazaretto is every bit as consistent as any White Stripes record (and more consistent than the first three, which had some dirgey filler, IMO), even if it is a bit more mellow overall. I'm a bit less fond of The Raconteurs and Dead Weather, but that's mostly down to others taking on vocal duties, and he doesn't devote more than three or four songs to those bands in any solo setlist anyways.

Jen / August 3, 2014 at 03:26 pm
I just read this review and was wondering if I had written this myself and then forgot that I had done it altogether. You encapsulated my feelings about this show and modern Jack White exactly. My first show was also at KoolHaus and I've seen him 9 times since (including the Fox Theatre last week) as well as visiting his shop in Nashville. The White Stripes evoked something in me that I had never felt before and I don't think I will ever feel again. It's now come full circle as I brought my 8 year old daughter to this show and even though the energy has changed and most of the attendees were still in grade school when White Blood cells was released, this will always be a memorable one for me.
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