January 31, 2015

Jack White and Run the Jewels played Madison Square Garden

Jack White and Run the Jewels might seem like an odd billing for a show, but as El-P said "when Jack White asks you to open for him at MSG, you say yes. It's in the Bible." Together, the pair made for an incredible night of legendary status. 

"RTJ is going to burn the Garden down" exclaimed Killer Mike and just like that, the current reigning champions of hip-hop dropped punishing beats and vicious hooks that carried to the rafters. Their energy was furious and they attacked each song as if their lives depended on it. Their chemistry was on fire and never once did the duo stop moving, dancing, or doing whatever they could to make the crowd come alive. They even took a moment to stop and frisk each other on stage and congratulated the audience for making it through 2014. While their raps are serious and to the point, the duo's onstage banter is light and heartfelt. They catered well to the massive crowd and treated the evening as their own headlining event. El-P was off the wall, jumping and hyping up the crowd and Mike boogied between savage rhymes. Playing loads of material from their most recent record, RTJ punished the crowd with relentless passion. After a blockbuster year, Mike and El show no signs of slowing down their game. Each track seemed more intense than before and when Zach de la Rocha made a surprise appearance for his verse on "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)" the arena was on the verge of eruption. Hip-hop has a poor reputation for live performances but Run the Jewels stepped up and took the game to a whole new level. And they were just the opening band.

Despite the tough act to follow, Jack White wasted no time getting down to business. From the opening number "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground", he strutted across the stage with his swagger in top form. He swung his guitar like a battle axe as he ripped through solos of epic magnitude that electrified the world's most famous arena. He leapt off amps, thrashed towards the crowd and delivered windmill riffs complete with high kicks that ignited the building. Behind him, a band comprised of superb talent, every member carefully balancing the others while never stealing the spotlight from their main man. His sound is rooted deep in the blues and his raw dirty sound comes across like a total tour-de-force. To end the first half of his set, Jack and company tore through an absolutely killer rendition of the White Stripes' "Ball and a Biscuit". Each note pounding over the crowd as Jack shredded unmercifully as only he can and left the crowd screaming for more madness. While the rockin' blues may be Jack's claim to fame, his affinity for hip-hop is becoming more apparent. Aside from Run the Jewels opening the show and Shabazz Palaces stopping by Third Man Records, New York's very own Q-Tip joined onstage to help sing "The Black Bat Licorice" before launching into a jaw dropping cover of A Tribe Called Quest's "Excursions"! At this stage in his career, White has such a deep catalogue of hits that he can easily dazzle the crowd with solo, Raconteurs, and classic White Stripes tunes. Still, the minimal approach of his first band was perfect on record, hearing them fleshed out by a full band is a great twist on old favorites. A Nashville ready version of "We Are Going to Be Friends" was a beautiful moment and "Steady As She Goes" got the arena shaking. As an entertainer and bonafide rock god, few can hold a torch to his prescience. The crowd was in the palm of his hand from the moment the lights went down and through every fire-blazing guitar solo. His skills are unparalleled and whether you love or hate his music, his showmanship is hard to deny. In grand tradition, the show concluded with a thundering version of "Seven Nation Army", a song which has become an international anthem was a phenomenal way to cap off a stunning evening of rock and roll.


01. "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground"
02. "High Ball Stepper"
03. "Lazaretto"
04. "Hotel Yorba"
05. "Temporary Ground"
06. "Cannon"
07. "Broken Boy Solider"
08. "Love Interruption"
09. "We're Going to Be Friends"
10. "Three Women"
11. "Top Yourself"
12. "Ball and a Biscuit"
13. "The Black Bat Licorice" (with Q-Tip)
14. "Excursions" (A Tribe Called Quest cover with Q-Tip)
15. "Sixteen Saltines"
16. "Astro"
17. "Steady, As She Goes"
18. "Would You Fight for My Love"
19. "My Love"
20. "Blunderbuss"
21. "Seven Nation Army"

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