Jack White rolls like thunder into Burnaby

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      At Deer Lake Park on Thursday, August 28

      Jack White in the bucolic setting of Deer Lake Park shouldn’t compute. He’s always looked like something that was hatched from a huge egg sac in a dank cellar in Detroit—you wouldn’t call him the outdoorsy type, exactly—but there was something right about watching this deathlessly talented freak remodel himself yet again beneath the towering pines of the Pacific Northwest on Thursday (August 28). Not least of all because so much of his set had the antique quality of mountain and porch music forced through a battery of screaming tube amps. Plus, on occasion (and ignoring the tensor bandage), he was barefoot. Back to nature!

      Every once in a while an artist comes along who somehow magically reminds you of everything you ever loved, and White has been that guy for almost 15 years. As such, “Missing Pieces” from 2012’s Blunderbuss album was chopped and changed into something resembling the MC5’s “The Human Being Lawnmower”, while Lazaretto’s “Just One Drink” came on like a country soul number by way of NYC in the ‘60s, towering over the recorded version as a result. Sticking to the new album (which White mostly didn’t),  “Temporary Ground” eased via a gorgeous piano break into “Alone in My Home”, either one bridging the gap between Led Zeppelin III and the awesome vision of hillbilly head music White brought to his 2004 collaboration with Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose. (And, again, the original versions of both numbers paled in comparison.)

      Supported by a five-piece band that included theremin, pedal steel, keyboards, and Lillie Mae Risch wielding both mandolin and fiddle—all of it built on what amounted to a 90-minute cannonade of drum fills from Daru Jones—White frequently walked the thin line between the woodsy sounds of Americana and his own peculiar brand of bombast. Life in Nashville must be getting to him, but only so much. A cornpone makeover of “Hotel Yorba” was all fiddle and double bass, but it still had the metallic sci-fi edge that White naturally brings to everything. Shit got even weirder when De Stijl’s “Apple Blossom” turned from a marching garage rocker into something that might have emerged from Weimer Germany, complete with swooning piano.

      Much of the show had this “what the fuck are they doing?” quality about it—and it was thrilling. Raconteurs’ track “Top Yourself” started, stopped, and sputtered all over the damn place, up until it settled into a slow groove and a parade of duelling solos. Every number took its own crooked path, and White Stripes chestnuts like “Icky Thump”, “Ball and Biscuit” and the encore ending “Seven Nation Army” were blown up into monstrous displays of virtuosity that pirouetted on the edge of chaos.

      You know who else we might have been reminded of, with all that restless reinvention, noise, unruliness, and abandon? Dylan. This was like the Rolling Thunder tour sponsored by an absinthe company. Not that you'd ever mistake the guy up there for anyone else. “You’ve been incredible and I’ve been Jack White,” he said, just before leaving the stage, so it was definitely him. 

      Comments

      13 Comments

      Pmil

      Aug 29, 2014 at 11:32am

      It was a brilliant show that should have been longer. Jack has been playing 25-35 songs per show on this tour, as opposed to last night's 21. Vancouver shortchanged again on account of the tyranny of curfews.

      Mia

      Aug 29, 2014 at 11:52am

      Well said. I was there last night. Wanted to see Jack White live, and I want to again and again now. My point is, last night was the most incredible concert ever for me. It was grounding and simply felt right. Didn't know he was bare foot, on the edge of the mosh and so couldn't see his feet. Doesn't surprise me though that he was barefoot, wish I could have been.

      Mia

      Aug 29, 2014 at 11:54am

      It's not in the amount of songs anyway, it's in the power and quality of each played. 21 or 25....grateful we got to simply see him live.

      tdot

      Aug 29, 2014 at 12:58pm

      He could have cancelled, then there would have been 0 songs. I'm grateful he pushed through what clearly looked like a painful 90 minutes.

      Clayton

      Aug 29, 2014 at 1:13pm

      This is a well-thought-out, evocative, punchy critique.

      Which is in stark contrast to the shallow, one-dimensional review in the Sun/Province, where they're more obsessed with Jack not playing the "hits".

      He's not a Top 40 (radio) artist, and songs like Hello Operator, Apple Blossom, Ball & Biscuit and Hotel Yorba are every bit as good as tracks like Fell In Love With A Girl, Blue Orchid, The Hardest Button To Button, and My Doorbell (if not a little better).

      While I agree with the "quality over quantity" sentiment, I guarantee he would've played another four songs (probably Lazaretto, another Kay slide guitar number, and a couple of others) had his ankle not been in such distress, and had the drunken, crowdsurfing (even during ballads!) idiots in the crowd not been present. We had twenty minutes to go before the curfew kicked in.

      Cheers.

      SM

      Aug 29, 2014 at 1:55pm

      "This was like the Rolling Thunder tour sponsored by an absinthe company." Great line! This review was clearly done by a person that knows about Jack White. The review in the Province is so incredibly dull and myopic in comparison.

      I too wanted more songs from him, but was glad to have had any at all. From where I was standing, outside of the main crush of people in front of the stage, I could see the band when they exited after "Steady, As She Goes" and "Seven Nation Army" ... and at the end of the show, Jack was limping *bad*. Poor dude - but his professionalism and dedication to his music won out over a mere blackened and twisted ankle. And like another poster mentioned, if his ankle had been in better shape and had some of the crowd not been so boorish, maybe he could have played right up until 10:00 -- but I'll take what I can get!

      Also, overheard on Canada Way, post-show: "Salvation Army was so good!!!" -- said over 4 times by the same person, without a shred of irony ... Amazing. And terrible.

      Pmil

      Aug 29, 2014 at 3:24pm

      He played 35 songs at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, post ankle injury. First the curfew was 11, then it was 10, and now it seems like bands are being asked to finish up with enough time to have the venue cleared of people by 10pm. It was the same at Beck last week. Bands are playing shorter sets when they're playing Deer Lake or Malkin Bowl.

      Clayton

      Aug 29, 2014 at 5:30pm

      Wow, that's terrible, Pmil, if it's actually true. Thanks for the info, and curse Deer Lake Park, and that guy back in 2006 who sued the city to get concerts there shut down altogether (thus resulting in the early curfew)!

      artsloverforever

      Aug 29, 2014 at 9:39pm

      Jack White was barefoot because he has a badly sprained ankle. Concert was brilliant as usual. Writer of this article needs to be fired.

      chard

      Aug 29, 2014 at 10:54pm

      I really liked the show, he is an awesome musician. However, my group of 6 all left with a bitter taste in our mouth.
      I know he isn't a top 40 guy, but when you see those top 40 hits played at every show prior to ours and at least 5 more songs played at every show prior to ours, you leave a little let down.
      Yes, I wanted to hear blue orchid and a couple of his other singles he's been playing in prior shows (lover interuption and sixteen saltines), but mostly, how do you not play your current single and the song the tour is named after?