Jack WhiteEcho Arena 20/10/18
“Please note: this is a phone-free show. No photos, video or audio recording devices allowed… Upon arrival at the venue, all phones and other photo or video-capturing gizmos will be secured in a Yondr pouch…” Well, if politely encouraging audiences not to spend their time on phones doesn’t work, take a different approach and have the devices effectively locked up for the entirety of the show.
20 years since The White Stripes’ first appearance on vinyl, the artist formerly known as John Gillis’ idiosyncratic approach continues. Not only are phones banned for JACK WHITE’s current tour (no phones are sighted during tonight’s gig), the only snapper present is employed by the singer, recalling the days when anyone caught with a camera would have it confiscated.
Walking on to the stage bathed in blue light, the colour scheme for all of his solo career, White reaches for one of the six guitars racked behind him and launches into Over And Over And Over from recent LP Boarding House Reach. While the technology clampdown presently in effect may be taken as evidence for White’s Stuckist attitude towards rock music, his solo material ventures into different genres than the fuzzy garage rock rushes and blues standards the Stripes made their name with. Stood behind a stand holding three microphones that look as though he’s about to take part in a press conference, a thudding take on the hip hop-influenced, Trump-trashing Corporation (a sequel of sorts to the Stripes’ auto industry jibe The Big Three Killed My Baby) takes flight on Quincy McCrary’s Stevie Wonder-style keyboard motif.
Backed by an incredible backing outfit, the standout player is drummer Carla Azar, an exemplary, thunderous presence behind the kit. Hotel Yorba, mashed up with Heartbreak Hotel is absolutely wonderful, rerouting the original into a country honky tonk version led by Neal Evans’ superlative piano playing. The pacing suffers slightly mid-set where directionless soloing takes hold, however, a delicate You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket and a strutting rendition of Freedom At 21 are superbly delivered.
Referring to Liverpool as the city in which The Raconteurs made their 2006 live debut at the Academy, Steady As She Goes kicks off the encore. Like any showman worth his salt White knows when to milk a moment, as a call and response with the left and right hand sides of the arena is built up before the entire room takes on the chorus.
The finale can only be one song of course. With chants to the tune of ‘that riff’ heard at the top of the encore, Seven Nation Army appears in extended form as the finale. With the refrain still ringing out from the crowd as the quintet take their bows at 11pm, the track’s popularity as an all-purpose sporting / political anthem shows no sign of fading. A restatement of principles to a devoted audience, White’s cult status remains assured. Whether the phone-stashing concept will ever catch on remains to be seen, mind.