Jack White at the O2 Arena
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jack White would use a show on the biggest stage in London as a great opportunity to exclusively plug his second solo album, the stylishly diverse Lazaretto. However, he wanted to end his tour year with a crowd-pleasing extravaganza. Tonight was also a rediscovery of his rock story so far and a sentimental journey into his past and present work. Opening his set with the short but sweet classic Fell in Love with a Girl from his former band The White Stripes, he began a show that regularly switched between his solo work and his group endeavours.
His new material included lead single Lazaretto: the song is inspired by a collection of short stories that he wrote 20 years ago and recently rediscovered, cobwebbed in his attic. He also played the fuzzy instrumental High Ball Stepper and the country twang of Temporary Ground. For White Stripes fans he added Cannon, Astro and Apple Blossom, but it was his return to the beginning chapter of his story, with The White Stripes’ first ever commercial single Hotel Yorba, that was the most sentimental. His inclusion of Blind Willie Johnson’s a cappella John The Revelator expressed one of his childhood inspirations, which was another nice touch to his self-reflective show. He didn’t forget to also include a triplet of songs from his secondary band The Raconteurs, most notably the debut single Steady as She Goes, before the encore.
Like any musician on a journey to stardom, he has suffered setbacks; the devastating and untimely death in October of his backing-band keyboardist Ikey Owens lead to tour cancellations in Mexico. In appreciation, he appropriately dedicated Love Interruption, from his debut solo album Blunderbuss, to his late friend who helped him along his path.
He ended the set with one of the most idiosyncratic guitar riffs in modern rock: Seven Nation Army. Tonight, rather than ignore his past in favour of a new dawn, the Michigan musician chose to embrace it.
Matt Taylor Hobbs
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Watch the video for Lazaretto here: