Friday, October 5, 2012

Jack White @ L'Olympia, October 2, 2012

Yes, in Montréal, a $59 ticket actually costs $79.

It was my fourth time seeing a Jack White project live, after the White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, and like every other time, I came out fully satisfied.

The energetic frontman once again proved to be a generous performer, but also a tremendous band leader. It's one thing to be in synch with one drummer, a co-songwriter, or to be the guy holding the beat down, but it's a whole other to lead a full band into a setlist-free 90-minute show, and dictating when the violin, organ or banjo solo will occur, and for how long.

As expected, his greatest rapport came with drummer Daru Jones, who added fluidity to Meg White's parts on the many White Stripes songs performed that night, even White's biggest hit, Seven Nation Army.

White travels with two bands this time around, deciding on the morning of which one (or at times both) will accompany him onstage, and The Buzzards (Los Buzzardos), the all-male counterparts to the all-female The Peacocks, were the chosen ones on this night; they are, at heart, a soul/r'n'b band, with a definite rock edge. If there was a band you could see baking Al Green for a Queens Of The  Stone Age crowd, it'd be them.

Throughout the evening, White ended up playing 8 White Stripes numbers, 2 Raconteurs songs, I Cut Like A Buffalo from The Dead Weather, 3 covers (Hank Williams' You Know That I Know, Robert Johnson' Stop Breaking Down, and a bit of Dick Dale's Nitro) and 6 songs off his recent solo outing, for a total of 19 discernible tracks of aural pleasure.

Oddly, he seemed less inclined to go on never-ending solos, perhaps because he didn't want to outshine his band, but after seeing him with his previous acts, always taking center stage, I kind of expected him to continue in that vein with his name being alone on the marquee. Whether he was just not in the mood for showboating or is just more humble with his top-notch backing band, or perhaps because he was using a Fender telecaster guitar rather than his usually strident low-budget Italian six-strings, he concentrated on performing it raw, which was just fine with the typical Montréal crowd - loud, happy, into it. It even led to a few impromptu sing-alongs, which White seemed to enjoy.

The sound was both pretty good (you could decipher every instrument in the band) and average (some of the vocals were hard to hear if you didn't know the songs well, as was pointed out in a few reviews I read), but it's a damn rock show, not an album, so I was more than ok with it.

It was loud, but you could taste the blues, you could hear the country, you could touch the folk and you could definitely see the rock.

And I thought I saw Brendan Benson as the go-to backing vocalist, guitarist, tambourine man and small string instrument player:

If it is him, I'm a tad disappointed that they didn't play Steady As She Goes, but if your lone gripe is about the one song in a 200-plus catalog that wasn't there, you're kind of missing the point.

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