Live Review: Jack White

1 August 2012 | 4:31 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

After saying she spread rumours about having eloped with White, we are informed she also threatened to kill herself on multiple occasions. Is this seriously White’s segue into Top Yourself by The Saboteurs?

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As Lanie Lane takes the stage right on time, the front row is already jammed with Jack White fans and so second row it just has to be. Onstage, Lane looks every inch the type to fall in love with a cowboy, but somehow the idea of her is better than the reality. She supplies a wardrobe spoiler by saying the show's “colour coded” and admits herself and Mr White both dig powder blue threads. A new song titled No Sound is previewed, but our attention wanders to the shrouded instrument stations that promise greater things await. Lane shows glimpses of oomph during her rendition of Janis Martin's Bang Bang, but her star merely flickers tonight.

As the venue sound system kicks in, it's clear Jack White's camp has supplied this soundtrack. There's an audible crackle of grooves in vinyl and the following lyrics are deciphered: “I want some buckwheat cakes”. Many ponder the question: will Jack White opt for his all-female or all-male cast this evening? Impeccably dressed gents in crisp, black, long-sleeved shirts and fedoras tune various instruments. It'll be the boys then. Or are they just dapper roadies? Hold that thought, there's a charming damsel in pale blue silk gown traversing the stage. It's the advertised showtime of 9pm! This is so exciting your correspondent spills beer inside her sleeve. Guys in matching finery, some with axes strapped on, look bored side of stage. Now they have power packs in place. Definitely going with the testosterone advantage tonight then hey, Jack? Come on, you're nearly half an hour late!

Blackout. Rapt cheers. Standby stage lights. Go. Six band members of the fairer sex take their positions. We got the girls! Jack White, international man of mystery, has successfully punked us. The ladies, who resemble demure banshees in matching sky blue hue and black tights, demonstrate their instrumental prowess before their band leader struts out. There's even a female who appears to be official tour snapper up there sporting White's chosen look for his harem. Killer drummer Carla Azar and keyboardist Brooke Waggoner bookend White and they're slammin' by song two, Sixteen Saltines, which has a decidedly old-worldly quality to it despite being from White's most recent set, Blunderbuss. The extraordinary artist sports a long-sleeved black shirt and matching slacks held up by powder blue suspenders and you can guess what colour his electric guitar is (hint: Eiffel 65). And who said white shoes have a tendency to look cheap? White pulls them off with aplomb. He pays a lot of attention to Azar, whose dress is hoisted up almost to her waist. The opaque tights make this fine and the penny suddenly drops as to why The White Stripes broke up.

The stylish 'roadies' (who may or may not be members of White's 'boy band' Los Buzzardos) wander out to tweak equipment between songs and then it's straight into Love Interruption. “How do you do?” enquires White at song's end.

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Hotel Yorba by The White Stripes? Well, go on then. A rogue electronic buzz is professionally ignored. As soon as White sets his fingers on the piano keys for I Guess I Should Go To Sleep, we wish he had four arms so he could play keys and guitar simultaneously. After taking it down a notch for Two Against One (from White's Rome collaboration with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi), White becomes storyteller, imparting a bizarre (tall?) tale from his last Melbourne visit while on tour with The Dead Weather. An obsessed nutjob allegedly called “Soiler” broke into his bandmate Jack “LJ” Lawrence's hotel room and stole his mobile phone, White tells. She then proceeded to ring Lawrence's contacts and, according to White, police found her but then let her go. After saying she spread rumours about having eloped with White, we are informed she also threatened to kill herself on multiple occasions. Is this seriously White's segue into Top Yourself by The Saboteurs?

You Know That I Know by Hank Williams, which White gives plenty of vibrato, offers some redemption, but still the energy has been altered and White notices: “You don't need to be so quiet, y'all. You're not in a library. I'm not gonna yell at you.” The entire front row does not dance at all during the show. What's with that? As White strokes the ivories, he introduces his entire band using their full names. Take Me With You When You Go leads into the surprise inclusion of Steady, As She Goes by The Saboteurs, which is a jaunty mood enhancer, soul background vocalist Ruby Amanfu shining celestial here. Only when all onstage play statues, demanding a vocal reaction from the crowd, does this congregation fully participate. Just in time to sincerely demand an encore.

The closing collection of songs from White's various guises is so random it could have been selected using rock-paper-scissors backstage during the short break. White doesn't play his guitar, a gorgeous natural wood specimen at present, he consumes it. There's seemingly no effort or concentration necessary. Freedom At 21 sits haughtily before the Stripes' My Doorbell, but Seven Nation Army as performed by the seven onstage? One couldn't possibly imagine it sounding better. Ever. After thanking his band “The Peacocks”, White praises us for being “so nice” and “so wonderful” – is that really what you'd wish from your audience? And he didn't play I'm Shaking. Dear Mr White, if you don't intend to play this ball-tearer during your Splendour In The Grass set, you ought to be very “noivous” indeed.