Jack White Rocks Roseland

Jack White at Roseland Ballroom on May 22, 2012 (Jo McCaughey)

Garage-punk-Blues madman Jack White rocked a sold-out Roseland Ballroom last week in what was the second of a two-night stand in support of his solo record debut, the dirty-raucous-smooth, noise-soaked, yelp-infused Blunderbuss—and he pulled out all the stops.

White, of The White Stripes/The Raconteurs/The Dead Weather fame, blazed through more than an hour and half’s worth of songs spanning all three bands yet comprised heavily of new material from his latest offering. As is typical of his live performances, White delivered a colorful, blistering smattering of fiery heartfelt numbers and soulful takes, all teeming with the Detroit-turned-Nashville native’s otherworldly guitar work and gutturally passionate howls.


The outing was White’s third in Manhattan in two months—not including television performances on Saturday Night Live and The Colbert Report—before embarking on a European tour.

“I haven’t played this town in almost 24 hours,” he joked between songs, before forcing everyone in the venue to turn 90 degrees to the right, to the VIP bar, to watch the last four songs.

Sure to be a page in the annuls of White legend, he took his quest to mess with his fans to new heights by turning it into a makeshift stage for what was a hellfire of an encore—sending hundreds packed into the venue into a frenzied tizzy, screaming for more.

After openers Alabama Shakes warmed up the audience, White—playing with all-female touring band The Peacocks (he’s also been traveling with all-male backing band Los Buzzardos)—opened with a roaring crowd-pleaser, the Stripes-esque “Sixteen Saltines.” Quick to quell the quickly erupting chaos among the audience, “Missing Pieces” came next, reversing the order of Blunderbuss’ first two tracks.

In all, he would tear through eight of the new album’s 14 tunes. Sprinkled between were gems from the Stripes’ 2001 debut White Blood Cells, 2003’s Elephant and various Raconteurs and Dead Weather numbers. White Blood Cells’ “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” came just third, with “Hotel Yorba” shortly later and “We’re Going to Be Friends” smack dab the middle of the set.

The Stripes’ Elephant got the most love. One of its singles, “The Hardest Button to Button,” was followed by the bluesy, distortion-saturated “Ball and Biscuit,” which closed the set. The encore included “Black Math” and closed with “Seven Nation Army.”

The only song performed off the Stripes’ 2007 album Icky Thump was “Catch Hell Blues.”

The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather fans were treated to two songs each—no, not popular Raconteurs hit “Steady, as She Goes,” off their debut Broken Boy Soldiers—but the equally crowd-pleasing “Top Yourself” and “Carolina Drama” from the former as well as “Blue Blood Blues” and “I Cut Like A Buffalo,” from the latter’s second album Sea of Cowards and debut Horehound, respectively.

Between scratching the itch for the raw garage rock and blues riffs that initially catapulted White to the national stage, more heartfelt female duets, such as “Love Interruption,” the first single off Blunderbuss, rounded out the night.

In typical Jack White fashion, both Roseland gigs sold out early.

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