On the night before Fourth of July, a very independent Jack White rocked London. He played at the Eventim Apollo, which was called the Hammersmith Odeon when I was growing up here. I think even if a large section of the younger crowd were unaware of the venue's incredible rock n' roll history, the older ones, even Jack himself, knew. He opened with a welcoming quote, "Bass for your face London!”, which comes from Public Enemy’s legendary 1987 live recording
there. It was great fun taking Max to the gig. He's now nearly fourteen, and old enough to appreciate, (or at least not be bored) of me telling him about a few of the shows that I’d been to at the venue back in the 70’s & 80’s. He seemed interested that I’d seen James Brown, The Ramones (Rocket to Russia tour), Johnny Guitar Watson, Frank Zappa & ABC with full orchestra performing "Lexicon of Love.” The venue's main difference between then and now, other than the pathetic name, is that all the seats from the main floor have been removed. This means they can ram a lot more people in there, so if you're not pushy, you’re not getting to the front.
Max and I had seen some of Jack's set at Governors Ball last month, but this was different. Tonight Jack and his whole band were on fire! I’d seen The White Stripes many times & while I do miss the naïvete of Meg's no-frills style, I was transfixed by Brooklyn-based drummer Daru Jones. He was conversational with his drumming, adding a whole new feel and dynamic to the simplicity of some of the White Stripes' catalog.
The set was a mix of the strongest tracks from Jack's two solo albums and a ton of White Stripes hits, that were born 17 years ago! He also threw in Dead Weather’s “Cuts Like A Buffalo" plus a truly great rendition of The Raconteurs' “Steady As She Goes,” which went to #1 in the UK.
In fact most of Jack's songs were much bigger hits in the UK than they ever were in the US The White Stripes broke and were massive in England almost from the get go, and they never really had the same star power in the US until their last couple of albums.
During the gig there were times I wished this band was a leaner, stripped down rock n' roll unit. I would have preferred it as a four piece, losing the two violin players, one of whom is his female backing singer, the other of whom played theremin, slide guitar, harmonica & vibes. That would have changed the dynamic and vibe completely though.
After an hour and twenty minutes, when the curtains closed, I was a bit worried Max was tired after standing for that long, being bumped into by drunks, etc. However when the band came back on for encores and played another blazing forty minutes, and ten songs, he seemed right into it. Then, after a full two hours of being "too hot," when he asked if our friend Richard Russell was able to get us back stage, I knew he was having a great time. The length of Jacks career was evident in the crowds age diversity. Its one of the few gigs I’ve been to recently, when I’ve not felt like I’m the oldest guy in the room, with kids staring at me.
I think I’ve been a fan of Mr. White for over 16 years now. One of the real peaks of my DJ career was being on the bill for Coachella 2006, the same year that the Stripes played it & also started to really break mainstream in US.
So massive shout-out to my pen pal Patrick of Technique PR
for sorting the guest list out for Max & myself!
Max turned as I shouted his name.
Completely drained after the show.