For Stone Temple Pilots, I initially decided against going and wound up getting in for a fraction of the original price. For Reuben and the Dark, I held off on buying a ticket and wound up winning my way in. When Jack White’s Canadian tour was announced, I really wanted to go and carefully considered my options, which amounted to Calgary and Winnipeg, but again, I stopped myself. Even short trips can be expensive and it’s not always fun to travel at this time of year. But no worries – when I decided not to go to Jack White, Jack White came to me, with the late addition of a Regina stop. There’s a lesson here. Never take any action to improve your miserable life. Fate will do it for you.
When the on-sale date rolled around, I was ready. I was at work when tickets went on sale, so I booked a ten-minute meeting with myself – this is not a euphemism for anything – so I’d have the best shot at getting tickets. Ticketmaster’s site chugged and churned, but finally, I got two general admission floor tickets – just what I wanted. I also got a premium parking pass to make leaving a little easier.
I needn’t have worried. The crowd was ultimately respectable but far from a sellout. There was even a student deal for cheap seats in a few specific sections. I could have bought floor tickets on the day of the show. The Brandt Centre is a much larger venue than TCU Place, where we saw The White Stripes (checks) eleven years ago?! Christ. Anyway. That show was an instant sellout. This one, decidedly not. I guess I do sense less interest in White’s solo material than in the White Stripes (even from myself), but I did think this show would be a bigger deal to more people.
In the email announcing the show and approximately thirty subsequent emails, we were warned that this was a phone-free show. It was the same message every time out and you may as well get to enjoy it too:
Please note: This is a PHONE-FREE show. No photos, video or audio recording devices allowed. We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON. Upon arrival at the venue, all phones and other photo or video-capturing gizmos will be secured in a Yondr pouch that will be unlocked at the end of the show. You keep your pouch-secured phone on you during the show and, if needed, can unlock your phone at any time in a designated Phone Zone located in the lobby or concourse.
What this means for you, dear bored skimmer: everything here is from memory and may be 100% wrong.
What this meant for us: not wanting to fart around with magic pouches, Mika and I left our phones at home. Between dinner out and the concert, I was without a phone for over five hours. Sad as this is, it might be the longest I’ve been truly disconnected in years. I actually considered bringing a pen and a notepad in case I wanted to take review notes. And during supper, I couldn’t check the exact date of my grandma’s birthday (December 20) and I couldn’t Shazam the familiar sounding song in the restaurant (Ophelia by The Lumineers). I think my phone is making me really dumb, guys.
Dinner was at Table 10, our favourite nearby spot. Monday is burger night and I got the day’s special, a barbecue bacon cheeseburger with grilled pineapple. I’ve had a few of their burger specials now and I think this one was the best. I also got chocolate peanut cheesecake, which was very good but I really didn’t more food. Mika had a veggie burger and raspberry creme brulé and enjoyed that. When I was paying the bill, the server asked if we had other plans; when I mentioned the concert, she got really excited. Not because she likes Jack White, but that this wasn’t just dinner, it was a date night. I guess it was. I’ll have to remember that it’s not date night unless there are at least two activities.
We drove to the Brandt Centre and parked in our special reserved lot. This was a better idea in theory than in practice. The fancy lot is a bit of a hike to the arena. Not enough that it would normally matter, but it was snowing and windy and generally awful out. And I was underdressed for the weather, since I didn’t think a parka in the arena for hours would be a good idea.
We found our way in and took a walk around the concourse. The line for the stuff table was orderly but ridiculous – I didn’t even consider getting anything. It was quite the contrast with Stone Temple Pilots, where I would have been no worse than third in line any time I went by. Jack White fans like to buy things.
We went down to the floor and stood around for a bit before Rob wandered over and invited us to come hang with him, Char, and Karen. We chatted about our respective concert histories and mostly-shared love for Frank Turner (I haven’t asked Mika but I suspect she would say “he’s fine”) before Crown Lands took the stage.
Now, about these here Crown Lands. They came out, got set to play, realized they forgot to hug, hugged, and then got back at it. They looked like modern-era “Weird Al” Yankovic on the drums and Will Forte in his Last Man On Earth beardy longhair phase on guitar – both wearing the Seventiesest outfits you ever did see. This is not entirely fair because I’m sure real Weird Al is old enough to be their dad, but Al doesn’t age anyway, so whatever. They walked onstage to Closer to the Heart and their last song was a cover of Kashmir, which tells you what they sounded like better than I ever could. Someone warn Greta Van Fleet that a new challenger approaches.
I tease. But this was actually pretty good! These guys were great musicians who won the crowd over during their short set. At one point, Will Forte traded his guitar for giant a two-necked bass/guitar hybrid and the crowd oohed appreciatively. If that whole Rush/Zeppelin thing appeals to you, check them out.
Then we had a break until Jack White. After a while, a countdown popped up on the big screen, looking like one of those old-timey alarm clocks where the numbers flip down. After a while, the silhouette of Jack White wandered out and knocked a few minutes off the timer. Everyone rejoiced! But then he added a bunch more time on. Then he messed with it for a while longer and ultimately left us more or less where we started.
While waiting, a lumbering oaf shoved past us, calling Mika “girl” in the process (his most egregious offense, I was told). He was very tall so he pushed his way to the front, and he was loud and stupid and acted like everyone in his vicinity was glad to see him, even the ones who were subtly backing away. I wanted to grab his braid, shove it up his ass, and pull it out his dickhole. Instead, we just moved a bit back.
Finally, Jack White and his band took the stage, the familiar red of the White Stripes’ peppermint motif replaced with blue. And before I get into anything else, this was a great-looking set. Jack White out in front with the band on risers around him, with giant rotating panels in the back – lights on one side, video screens on the other.
They opened with Over and Over and Over from White’s newest album. I’d wondered if they’d play his solo stuff exclusively, and that was answered with the second song, Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground from the White Stripes’ White Blood Cells. The set spanned most of White’s career, with White Stripes classics mixed in throughout, and even a Raconteurs song (Steady, As She Goes) as the first song of the encore.
Steady, As She Goes might have actually been my favourite performance of the night, just a killer version that brought an intensity that destroyed the album version. But there were other worthy contenders. My Doorbell is just a fantastic song. I really dig Love Interruption. And Hotel Yorba was made better with the addition of honky-tonk piano, as most things are. We’re Going to Be Friends, Ball and Biscuit, Blunderbuss – really, there were just a ton of great songs. This show ruled.
There was a long stretch in the middle where I wasn’t as familiar with everything. I haven’t spent as much time with his solo albums as I did with the White Stripes. That said, between the fantastic band and the visual spectacle I had nothing to complain about.
During the encore break, instead of calling for one more song, the crowd sang the bassline from Seven Nation Army. If you don’t watch wrestling, you’re wise for many reasons, not the least of which is hearing that song doesn’t remind you of Enzo Amore. And I thought his second-last song, Connected By Love, would have made a great show closer, but when that bassline hit for real, the place went nuts. And I know it’s not actually played on the bass (at least on the album) so leave me be.
Early on in the set, some dude fainted or passed out or something near me. He was able to leave under his own power with the help of medical staff, but it was interesting to see that White’s stage crew immediately saw what was going on and were there to help. We weren’t even that close to the front, but they were on it. I think maybe the bass player saw the commotion and alerted them – he kept scanning the area with concern.
In an unrelated note (I assume, anyway), I’ve discovered the reason why none of the cannabis stores here can get enough supply to open their doors: all of the pot was at the Brandt Centre. It’s gone now. I’m used to smelling weed at concerts but I’m not used to the smell never really going away. Tom Petty has been dethroned as the stinkiest concert I’ve been to.
I did miss my phone a little, but on our way out, it was nice to briskly skip past the lines of people waiting to unlock their phone sacks. “This is the worst invention ever,” hollered one guy, “I’ve got 300 people here who all hate this!” I laughed and Mika told me to not encourage him. We trudged through many snowdrifts to our special parking lot, but we did get priority when driving out, so that was nice. Not $15 nice. But nice.
Sit back, folks. This is a bit of a longer post…
So I was ambling through our local Wally World the other day and, out of habit, checked out the New Releases in the CD section. And there sat this brand new Jack White album. I had no idea it was being released! I texted James in my excitement about it, and he already knew. Still, I got the joy of discovery!
Connected By Love is the single, and it’s a solid burner of a love song that builds and has a killer organ solo. All good love stories have a great organ solo (har har). Anyway, when the track started it wasn’t what I expected and so I was sure it would need to be a grower, but as the song went on I fell in love with it. Connected by love, you could say… Why Walk A Dog? is the second track in a row that uses electronics as a base, almost like Casio keyboard but bigger, which always tells me he was working alone on this one. My instincts were right! “He had set up shop in a small apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, where he recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder which he purchased when he was fourteen. His goal was “to try to write songs where I can’t be heard by the next-door neighbor. And I want to write like Michael Jackson would write — instead of writing parts on the instruments or humming melodies, you think of them. To do everything in my head and to do it in silence and use only one room.” Cool beans. The buzzsaw guitar section in this one is absolutely filthy, I loved it.
Corporation brings the funk and asks “who’s with me?” in a Beastie Boys shout while the guitar and bass roil their funky asses off and bongos pop in the background and he muses about starting a corporation… This is hot! Abulia And Akrasia kicks off with lovely violin and piano as he says “These are my demands…” The vocabulary used and olde-timey feel is brilliant. And briefly, there’s a trumpet! Trumpets FTW! Hypermisophoniac brings back the electronic blippery and his vocals are heavily filtered and altered. The eventual riff is solid, simple like Jack White does best, and by the time the backup singers are saying “there ain’t no running when you’re robbing a bank,” I was hooked. The guitar and piano solo bits are great, too. What an oddity that still holds interest!
Ice Station Zebra brings a (simultaneously) jazzy and driving bit over a throbbing beat. Add in the vocal tone and this is Jack bringing the Beasties feel big-time. There’s a groovy breakdown section too. This is a definite album highlight. Over And Over And Over bashes you with that big White guitar sound and a loud “whooo!” and away we go to the races, hells yes! This is closer to the Jack White we’re used to, though it does still have some electronic squeals, but it’s a beast of a track. Everything You’ve Ever Learned rolls in with a failing recorded greeting and electronic bleeps, but then the drums and bongos set a blistering pace while Jack proselytizes over the top. When it’s in full lift-off it’s a super-fun riff, while Jack yells at us to shut up and learn! Haha fun.
Respect Commander was the b-side for Connected By Love, and it’s a crazy-fast opening in a drum-and-bass kinda way, but somewhere before the mid-point it drops to about quarter-speed and Jack lays down bluesy guitar as he wails the lyrics… but then it’s taking off again, faster and raunchier than ever for the guitar solo. Wow! Ezmerelda Steals The Show has arpeggiated guitar while Jack repeats the lyrics, different tone in each ear like he’s reading aloud with himself. It pays to have the good headphones on, folks! Get In The Mind Shaft floats on synths as he (once again) talks us into the track. It’s a fat electronic beat and riff, complete with electronic voices
What’s Done Is Done is a beautiful old-style soul belter with a bit of a country twang. The duet vocals by Esther Rose are superlative, and the lyrics are pure greatness. This was definitely another album highlight! And finally, Humoresque brings things in close, just him and a piano, lightly tapping drums, and a plucked guitar, while the melody is almost child-like, simple and beautiful and (again) old-timey in feel. It builds into a jazzy crescendo as it ends, the band growing and washing over you until it fades to glory.
This is a strong artistic statement, and without hyperbole, it’s one of the best records of this year (I’m calling it already!). It is joyous music-making, full creative release, and Jack White proving he is The Man. It’s weird, it’s different, it’s largely unlike other things he’s done, but as you listen you know he’s nailing it, track after track. This is a fearless record, full-on expression. Superb.
Bonus Bit: “A limited edition vinyl version was made available to customers of the Third Man Records Vault service. The package features a different cover art, light-up vinyl record, 7″ colored vinyl single of demos for the tracks “Connected by Love” and “Why Walk a Dog?”, and photographs taken during the recording sessions of the album.”
The alternate cover art is pictured at left.
The New Hotness Series, Part 8: Jack White – Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016
I love Jack White’s music, he’s got that sense of the blues and certain brashness to embrace it fully, that makes him quite awesome indeed.
This 2CD set is a must-own. I say that alot, I know, but honestly. Just buy this. It’s a superb collection of acoustic demo recordings of so many of his big songs, huge sound stripped away, from White Stripes, Raconteurs, and solo stuff too. Previously unreleased stuff, remixes, b-sides, alternate mixes… it’s a brilliant overload!
Saw this and it’s an even more concise thought on it:
“As noted American author and music journalist, Greil Marcus, conveys in the albums (sic) liner notes: “The lack of electric guitar opens songs up to their own contrivance, and cuts out pretentions of seriousness and grandiosity in favor of the quiet, the ridiculous, the sly.””
We spend the holidays at our parental units’ places, so we try to do Christmas a little early at our house. We chose this morning (Sunday) to start the festivities!
So first up is the generosity and awesomeness of James. I have said this many times in these pages (and out), but James is the man. He knows it, but he’s usually all humble about it.
This year he sent me something old and something new for Christmas, and something for my lovely wife as well!
1) Jack White – Lazaretto. Yep, this is gorgeous release with all three speeds on the same slab. The LP is 33 1/3, and under the label on one side you get a track in 45, and on the other, a track in 78. I’ve already reviewed this record on this site, and I can tell you right now I think this one was built to be heard on vinyl. That White made it such an awesome and creative release just makes it that much sweeter. SO. AWESOME.
2) Def Leppard – Pyromania. Yep, the old school vinyl from the 80s. This is gonna be A LOT of fun to spin. I mean, having it on CD is one thing, but an old original vinyl? Sweetness!
3) Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems. This is my lovely wife’s gift this year. Leonard on vinyl? Oh hells yes, yessir! It’s a great album, and so exciting to see Leonard enjoying this later-life ressurgence. I’ll bet this sounds gorgeous and warm. And it comes with the full album on CD tipped in!
James. You really are the man. Thank you! ThankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouTHANKYOU!
First off, a huge thank you to my lovely wife and our brilliant kids for this Father’s Day gift.
Folks, Jack White is a master. Yesterday, I posted about Blunderbuss. I really, really liked that record. Today, it’s Lazaretto and I am blown away.
Three Women’s funky jazzy intro becomes a slinky rocker about, of course, his three women – “red, blonde and brunette.” Ha. I love the piano part and the slide guitar. Every element of this song works, even the crash ending. It’s epic, this has to be a single.
Lazaretto is the single. I love this song. Love. Everything about it. It’s funky, heavy, playful, busy and bluesy. Yes.
Temporary Ground’s violin intro leads to a laid-back southern country-feel tune with lap steel. Superb duet vocals from Lillie Mae Rische make it perfect.
Would You Fight For My Love? is a piano/drum wonder. So simple, yet stil sweet. When the guitar and band kicks in, it’s a grooving mid-tempo rocker. This man has the knack.
High Ball Stepper had been a teaser track prior to release. It’s a bluesy instrumental with odd accents, like those piano runs. Explosive guitar around 2:00. So cool.
Just One Drink’s honky-tonk rock shuffle is pure bliss. Very Stones-ish, honestly. All it needs is Keef’s guitar jabs. Duet vocals from Ruby Amanfu make the track.
Alone in My Home comes from left field a bit, a piano-driven pop rocker. It’s solid, and has more vocal help from Rische. Without the usual wild guitar from White, it sounds aimed at radio, playing it straight.
Entitlement is a pretty, acoustic country-feel number with mandolin, piano and more lap steel. It even approaches gospel hymn in the vocals. A collision of styles as White chases his influences across the record. Sweet.
You know, if these last two tracks had been tacked onto the end of the record, it’d be a perfect ending. But he’s not done with us yet. Let’s see how he does with the last three tracks…
That Black Bat Licorice is a another epic White stagger rocker that feels like it’s barely keeping itself from going nuts, right down to the violin solo that ends it all. I love it. But sorry, I disagree, Jack. I like black licorice best. More for me, then.
I Think I Found The Culprit has acoustic instruments laid over a shuffling drum beat. It’s country, bluegrass, rock and even a bit of hip hop feel? Piano is a standout, here. I liked it!
And finally, Want And Able starts out with crows cawing, which leads into a beautiful harmony-sung piano track. He makes it sound like a church hymn, even though the lyrics really aren’t that. Yup, never mind what I said earlier. This, too, is a fitting ending. The last three tracks are like an encore.
Holy hell. I thought Blunderbuss was fantastic. Lazaretto is a true companion piece, and even goes several steps better. A masterpiece.
I am reviewing this in preparation for my (upcoming) review of Lazaretto.
You know, after the White Stripes split up, I wondered where Jack White could go. He did a thing, and that thing was successful. So now what?
Oh, just an ass-kicking record…
Missing Pieces should have been a single. It’s a super-cool earworm of a song like only White can write it, totally hummable. It had great guitar and organ solos. A sweet album opener.
Sixteen Saltines was a single, you’ll know it. It rocks. And it’s totally fun, too.
Freedom At 21 was also a single, and was the track that was a record store day event, wherein he tied vinyls of it to helium balloons and released them free to whomever might find them. Nobody can say White isn’t creative and interesting. The song itself is a funky blues rocker with yet another killer hook line, a crazy guitar solo and some great vocal vibratos.
Love Interruption was a single, and is a wonderful acoustic track. Tons of great lyrical brilliance here.
Blunderbuss’ beautiful waltz, married to White’s knack for melody lines, makes this a perfect track.
Hypocritical Kiss’ slightly out of tune piano (think disused church basement piano) intro gives way to a true shuffler beat and more genius White lyrics.
Weep Themselves To Sleep’s epic rock song structure is paired perfectly with a gorgeous piano part. There’s even another crazy guitar solo. Yes.
I’m Shaking was a single, and is a cover of Little Willie John. It’s a classic old school rock ’n roll romp. He even name-drops Bo Diddley, which tells you the stylings you’re in for, here.
Trash Tongue Talker comes at you in two speeds. First, it’s a gentle walking-speed blues swinger. But then, at the chorus, it double-times it into a drum and piano freak-out. So great.
Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy is a funky shuffler. Quite a happy tune, with a great bounce to it. This type of song comes from a long tradition, and it’s well-played. I loved it. [One wonders if he got the idea (or even a notion) for this song’s title from the Tragically Hip’s 2005 boxed set, Hipeponymous.]
I Guess I Should Go To Sleep carries on the old-style with great vocal harmonies from Ryan Koenig, and it’s a damn fine and catchy revival-type song.
On And On And On busts out a cello intro, then the organ walks in, the drums (a machine?) and the piano are next… the melody line is frustratingly familiar to me. Where have I heard that before? Anyway, it’s more of a sketch and a place to try out a few instrument combinations.
And finally, Take Me With You When You Go riffs neatly on an old jazz song I can’t quite place… gentle instruments all around, with a real bounce to them. The piano seques into a solid rawk part, and it’s here we stay til the track crashes to a close.
[The Japanese release also got Machine Gun Silhouette (interesting, near enough the Damned’s Machne Gun Etiquette, perhaps?), and a cover of U2’s Love Is Blindness.] I dunno, I like the album as it is in the regular release. It works, from top to bottom.
In Sum: This was a superb record. He couldn’t have made it under the Whtie Stripes banner, so it’s nice to hear White stretch his musical legs and tell us more about himself outside of that one format. His tendency to drift back to older styles and the roots of all things is evident all over this record and it serves him very, very well.
Two thumbs way, way up.
Recently, I was waffling about whether or not to buy the recent Led Zeppelin re-issues. I even put up a friggin’ poll about it. I have also been keeping my eye on several other new releases (Jack White, Neil Young, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, that new Off! record that came out a while back , amongst several others) in the pipeline recently, so it’s a tough time for me. When it rains, it pours.
As you’ll no doubt recall, I was instructed by my lovely wife to not buy anything for myself, because Father’s Day was approaching (yesterday), and my birthday will be in July. If I tell her things I like, she can use that as a shopping list so my buying things now would eliminate her opportunities, etc etc. Telling her there’s no end to the list of music I want and she only needs ask me does not help. Around major events like this, I’m summarily prevented from music purchase. Aw, man!
This all requires an incredible amount of restraint (as you can imagine, since you’re reading this blog). My reflex is to pick up the album I’m after! I’m sure you understand. But I have been good. Discplined, even! I have not bought any of the albums I would otherwise have considered, and this deserves commendation (surely).
And then! Yesterday was Father’s Day.
Our son made me a beautiful card, our daughter gave me a wonderful two-year-old daughter hug, and in the gift was two CDs that have me vibrating with excitement!
Neil Young – A Letter Home
Jack White – Lazaretto
So! It really was a Jack White (and Jack White-related) Father’s Day for me! Sweetness. I am very, very excited. And of course I will be reviewing both of these albums in the coming days. I need to hear them properly and digest them, and I also need to finish the Beasties series…
Now, the Lazaretto I’d been eyeing on vinyl, because it is an awesome and beautiful thing [From Wiki: “The limited-edition “Ultra” LP features hidden songs, secret grooves, and holograms that materialize when the record is being played.”] Oh baby. And my lovely wife, bless her heart, did a pre-order on Amazon for this gift a while back, and she swears up and down she did not see a vinyl option for the album when she placed the pre-order. It was CD only, as she saw it. So, CD it is, and it’s gonna kick some serious ass around here. I may still go looking for the vinyl at some point, for the collectibility of it, but I can hear the whole damn thing RIGHT NOW and this all fills me with glee.
And the Neil Young is going to be so great. Of course it is. If you clicked that link for it, above, you’ll know why this is a sweet, sweet disc. Not to mention I’m a big fan anyway, so it was already a shoe-in.
My huge thanks to my family, especially my lovely wife. I’VE GOT NEW MUSICS!!
Another long while between blasts. It’s about bloody time I got at least something up here…
Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle – Let’s Just Stay Here
I’ve loved this disc from the get-go. And I was writing initial reviews of it in my head right after I got it. Obviously, I never got around to the actual writing part. But now I realize that this negligence has actually been a blessing in disguise. Sure, I’d have raved about this record at the time. It’s a solid, engaging and excellent effort that definitely has its own feel, creates its own space to breathe and be all the awesome that it is and then goes for it full-on. But the added advantage I have in waiting until now to post this is in getting to tell you just how much of a good friend this record has become with repeated listens. Damn, man. This rules. The trademark humour, the harmonies, the excellent music from the band. It sounds equally great in my iPod, my stereo, and in my rumbly old truck. Yeah baby, this is the real deal.
Arrogant Worms – Three Worms And An Orchestra
A fun DVD, exactly as you’d expect: the group’s goofy songs with full arrangements from the Edmonton SO. They underhand-pitch most of their schtick between songs, and fair enough. Good family fun. The song ‘Celine Dion’ still makes me howl.
It Might Get Loud
A mostly cool meeting of three generations of guitar biggies; Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page. They play, talk, reminisce…
It was nice to see the elder-statesman Page still so enthralled with the music, and he seemed a good sport about this gig. He gets paid the least attention, though, which is odd given his legacy.
It’s hard to take somebody who calls himself The Edge seriously, especially since he’s been playing essentially the same damn riff for twenty years. All his effects and knob-twiddlings fail to interest me.
White came out best in this, to my mind. The brash impatience and energy, the studied acknowledgement of the dark corners of the blues, the wavering between respect and arrogance. We laughed when he said, on the way to this historic meeting, that he expected a fistfight. Haha. Yeah, if the future remains in his hands we’ll be alright.
Recommended viewing, even if they do totally butcher ‘The Weight’ during the end credits.
Sloan – Hit & Run EP
Sloan has a new EP and a B-Sides collection available for cheap on their web site. You should go buy them right now. http://www.sloanmusic.com/
This EP is a thoughtful collection of new material in that inimitable Sloan style. Strong writing, gorgeous song construction and instrumentations, incredibly catchy hooks, and the sense that while these songs are great on the EP, they’ll be even better live. Yeah baby! SLOOOOAANN!!!
I’ll get to writing about the b-sides collection after I give it another full spin.