February 23, 2023

Jack White played Brooklyn Steel

The inimitable Jack White played a, relatively, intimate one-off show at Brooklyn Steel and proved that there's no one in rock and roll quite like him.

There are concerts and then there are Jack White concerts. For over twenty years, the now legendary musician has built a reputation around this character he's created and under this guise, he's developed himself as a master showman and all out entertainer. Always using this illustrious persona to push his brilliant musical agenda, he has rarely, if ever, given anyone a real glimpse into his real life. We're probably better off for it. On stage, there's no one quite like Jack White III and as he took to the, rather small for his standard, stage at Brooklyn Steel, it was very clear that he was out to prove that his reputation still hasn't succeeded him, but actually, somehow, might not even live up to what he is really capable of delivering during a live performance. From the onset, he was restless and danced his way across the stage while unleashing truly unbelievable guitar tricks that only accelerated as the night went on. Usually, he's headlining festivals or the biggest arenas in a city, so to see him play a 1200 person venue was a real treat and he did everything in his power to make it feel special. He easily exceeded all expectations. Dazzling the crowd with new solo tracks to start, "Taking Me Back" acting as the quick fire start to the night, he quickly switched into high gear and decimated his back catalogue of White Stripes classics starting with an eccentric "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" which came to life with raw, unfiltered riffs that set the bar high and which he would top not too long after. Brandishing unyielding solos and incredible fret work, his ability to make the most thrilling guitar licks look effortless never got old and, if possible, only seemed to get better as the night went on. Digging way back into his career, "Apple Blossom" from the Stripes sophomore record De Stijl was a killer surprise to hear early in the set that "Hotel Yorba" was a cheery and embellished his ragtime tendencies, the piano hitting like it was straight out of an old saloon before he impeccably transitioned into "Fell In Love with a Girl," a song I have been waiting over twenty years to hear live that somehow still exceeded any of my expectations. The iconic riff sent the crowd into a frenzy as he wailed away before allowing everyone to catch their breath as he seamlessly transitioned it into a slowed-down blues motif that still captured the essence of the song and allowed it to carry on well past it's typically brief run time."I Think I Smell a Rat" was another epic and rather unexpected number that once again found White annihilating the stage with thrashing licks, there were many times throughout the night where Jack seemed possessed, music flowing out of him as if he couldn't help himself and as if a greater power was somehow using him directly as a vessel to display such supernatural talent. "We're Going to be Friends" recalibrated the night and resulted in a massive singalong from the crowd and while the electricity felt like it was able to take a moment to collect itself, the audience did no such thing and replaced the energy of the screaming guitar with their own unbridled enthusiasm for what we were all witnessing onstage. Bringing out a battered and bruised hollow-body guitar, the night hit its paramount with "Catch Hell Blues" as Jack reached his apex moment of guitar shredding, giving in fully to the instrument and his immense talent. To witness a musical moment that felt so monumental was truly breathtaking, a see the face of God-type memory, that will replay in my mind for ions to come and one that truly places him amongst the highest order of guitar players. While that track couldn't be outdone, Jack did give it his best shot as he drove home an absolutely punishing and ear-splitting "Ball and a Biscuit" which took the night into overdrive, Jack getting the guitar to sing with such sweet pleasure during which it seemed like nothing could possibly top it. After a quick blackout of the lights, the band returned to deliver more of the back to basic burners like The Raconteurs anthemic "Steady As She Goes, which once again got the crowd engaging with a call-and-response moment, White in complete control as head lead everyone through major shoutout lines all the way down to a near whisper of a lyric. The focus of the phone-less crowd never left the icon and as thrilled as the crowd was to be in such a presence, White was also grinning from ear to ear throughout the night. "Icky Thump" was another banger that felt extra charged-up, the chugging riff exploding over and over again as the band cranked out an endless amount of power before segueing triumphantly into the barn-burning "Blue Orchid"As is tradition, the night came to a thunderous finish with the international sports anthem "Seven Nation Army," which happened to celebrate its twentieth birthday this week, and the deafening chant was equally matched by Jack's shattering volume. "The loudest Brooklyn crowd I've ever heard" he said as the band absorbed deafening applause before ending things officially with his usual, but important line "you've been a wonderful audience and I've been Jack White," bringing to an end his character for the evening and with that, the finale to an all-time show. There are concerts and then there are Jack White concerts. And then there are Jack White concerts at intimate venues and those are truly the living, breathing example of top-notch rock and roll.

Set list:

01 "Taking Me Back"
02 "Fear of the Dawn"
03 "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground"
04 "Hi-De-Ho"
05 "Apple Blossom"
06 "If I Die Tomorrow"
07 "What's Done Is Done"
08 "Hotel Yorba"
09 "Fell in Love With a Girl"
10 "Lazaretto"
11 "I Think I Smell a Rat"
12 "I Cut Like a Buffalo"
13 "We're Going to Be Friends"
14 "A Tip From You to Me"
15 "A Madman From Manhattan"
16 "Catch Hell Blues"
17 "Ball and Biscuit"
18 "Steady, as She Goes"
19 "Icky Thump"
20 "What's the Trick?"
21 "Blue Orchid"
22 "Seven Nation Army"


Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Your last statement rings true, there are no other concerts like a Jack White concert! We saw him April 2022 and it was something I never want to forget. Your article just brought back all those great memories. Thanks.