Live Review | Jack White at the Agganis Arena
by Ryan Doyon, a music loving, world traveling, beer drinking, hockey fanatic. If you're in a band then he wants to know about it.
Photos by Boston Concert Photography
On Friday, September 28th Jack White paid a visit to Boston to promote his solo album Blunderbuss and remind everyone at the show exactly who is in charge. The last time Jack was in our neck of the woods he was behind the drums with his last super-group side project, The Dead Weather, back in the summer of 2009. When I asked fans around the arena if they had been to that show most of them said no. When asked why did they miss a chance to see Jack White in Boston the most common reply I received was that he was the drummer and they weren’t going to pay to see him be “some band’s drummer.”
It appears Mr. White got that memo and the response to his fan-base comes in the form of a newly christened, baby blue clad, front-man backed up by a band of rock n’ roll fowl. He tours with an all female band, The Peacocks, and an all male band, The Buzzards, and decides on who plays with him on stage the day of the show. We were fortunate to be graced with the beautiful, hard-hitting, Peacocks that evening and it seemed most in the crowd were happy with this decision.
When the lights went down in the arena the spotlights lit the stage white and blue and the band came out to rip right into “Sixteen Salteens,” a sure-fire way to get the crowd on your side instantly. Everyone had their hands in the air, jumping and singing along, as Jack took the band right into the classic White Stripes number “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.” It seemed everyone was having a great time…except for Jack. From my vantage point near the front it was clear to me he was having sound issues. It was also clearly heard as the mic squealed every time he leaned in to sing. His attitude changed a bit after that gaffe as he tried to get the sound guys on his level, but the excitement and exuberance of the crowd directly in front of him kept Jack’s frustration in check. With the sound more to his liking the band kicked into “Love Interruption,” featuring the wonderful Ruby Amanfu on backing vocals. The Nashville singer-songwriter’s work on Blunderbuss has been highly praised, and her command of the stage, whether she is singing or playing guitar, matches Jack note for note. It was great fun to watch the two of them interact, and Ruby’s voice adds a new spark to songs that previously did not have backing female vocals.
Introduced as a “little country number” the crowd went wild when the familiar opening guitar chords of “Hotel Yorba” kicked in sending the people into a hopping, sing-along, frenzy. This upbeat vibe kept going as were treated to a few Raconteurs songs by way of “Broken Boy Soldier” and “Top Yourself,” which were played back to back. We were all asked to once again sing along with everyone’s favorite “We’re Going to Be Friends.” We happily obliged, as all of Agganis sang “Teacher thinks that I sound funny/But she likes the way you sing,” while Jack nodded in approval.
The set wound down with more Stripes favorites including a fantastic rendition of “Slowly Turning into You” and my favorite “Hardest Button to Button,” with Jack making use of every inch of the stage as he jumped from mic to mic, playing his guitar like he was a man possessed. After saying their goodbyes the crowd did their best to get the gang back on stage, and we were rewarded with a three song encore kicked off with the high energy new single “Freedom at 21.” The pace kept on climbing with a tremendous rendition of “Ball and Biscuit,” and bidding the crowd farewell once again the band dove into a heavy hitting “Seven Nation Army” which sent everyone happily off into the rainy night.
Opening for Jack White would seem a little intimidating but the Charleston, South Carolina duo Shovels and Rope were up to the task and handled their last minute addition to the line-up with the grace and character of seasoned pros. I was lucky enough to see the husband and wife team on a much smaller stage at Johnny D’s in Somerville this past August, and was super excited to find out they would be back in town. They were their usual charming selves and managed to rock the early crowd, more than likely making many more Boston fans. Pick up their album O’ be Joyful and get to know your new favorite band.
Check out the amazing shots from Boston Concert Photography below.