Ok, here’s my review of the Jack White show at The Ryman Auditorium on May 16th in Nashville, Tennessee.
I’ll start off with the opening act, The Alabama Shakes. They are an amazing band to see live. If they come within 500 miles of your location then you need to find a way to get to that show. I expect great things from this band. Secondly , that Jack White dude. I don't know where to start. I came in expecting a great show, and it was far better than that. He consummates everything I expect from a true rock and roll icon. Talent, effort, innovation, swagger and on and on. Whereas on the first night of the Ryman shows he had the guys backing him, this night he took the stage with his backing band of ladies, The Peacocks, dressed in their baby blue gowns looking like Greek Goddesses. Showtime. They went straight into Missing Pieces, not sounding like they had only been playing together for a few months. Sixteen Saltines got the place hoppin' and Black Math got the place straight up rockin'. I've waited so long to hear that song live and it was everything I expected. I personally like Love Interruption, especially the way Jack and backup singer Ruby Amanfu harmonize. And they didn't disappoint live. The following songs, Weep themselves to sleep, Top Yourself, and Hypocritical Kiss were solid. Your pretty good looking for a girl gave the crowd the bounce they had been waiting for. Blue Blood Blues led into a clever version of Dead leaves on the Dirty ground which had Jack on the organ rather than guitar. I guess I should go to sleep, with it’s fun lyrics and rollicking piano rhythm carried the crowd into the Hank Williams classic You know that I Know. Then it was time for the classic White Stripes sing along Hotel Yorba which had Jack and the crowd trading lyrics , and was a lot of fun. A very different and pleasant I’m finding it hard to be a gentleman evolved from a rather long guitar intro that had fans guessing where he was going, but were glad where he landed. Steady as she goes was played quite different than the Raconteurs would typically do, but as with any of the altered tunes it worked very nicely. I’m slowly turning into you, which featured the pause and subsequent “WOO!” from the crowd after each verse closed out the set. After a couple minutes off stage Jack and the Peacocks returned with Freedom at 21, with its fast drum work and patented Jack White guitar sound raising the energy into The hardest button to button in which the crowd bounced in unison to “I had opinions, that didn’t matter. I had a brain, it felt like pancake batter!!!” The closer, and gem of the night, Ball and Biscuit, was better than I ever thought it could possibly be. I hope to god an audio bootleg surfaces because I can’t begin to describe how great the guitar on that song was. Jack was all over the stage, practically colliding with most of the girls. And then, it was over. The crowd pleaded for more, but it was not to be. I was fine with it though. I couldn’t imagine a better ending to a show than that epic performance of Ball and Biscuit . Then again, it is Jack White we’re talking about. A Mad Genius indeed.
Some more thoughts on what I liked so much about the whole event that was this show. Starting with the idea of having two bands, one ladies and the other men. I love it. The majority of the songs played are different with each band, and that benefits in several ways. One, the surprise factor. Who’s playing tonight? Only Jack knows. He doesn’t tell the band until the very morning of the show. Two, different “song” lists. Jack doesn’t typically follow a set list anyway, but the two bands playing different sets ensures surprises throughout the show. And if you follow bands, like many of us in the forum do, you are more likely to hear many different tunes from show to show. Then there is the band. These girls are more than just eye candy, they can flat out play. Ruby Amanfu is a perfect match for Jack’s harmonies. He interacts so well with his new female drummer, seemingly taunting her to play harder. And his fiddle player, trades on and off as well. Next, posters. They are hot , hard to find items these days. And with these shows Jack got creative. There were 3 (imagine that) different posters that were available. When the three posters are placed next to each other they created one larger poster which is Jack’s profile and logo. How cool is that?!?! Two of the posters were available at the shows , 75 of each at each show, and one that could only be acquired at Third Man Records on the days of the show, and only 75 on each day. (oh yea, we got 2 of the black ones.) I also liked how he could’ve easily booked a larger venue and did one show while still making as much, if not more money than he did at The Ryman, but chose not to. Why did he not do that? Because he knows the smaller venues give the fans a much more intimate and satisfying show (are you listening Dan and Pat?!?!) That means a ton to fans who are shelling out big bucks to come see their favorite bands. In our case, upwards of a grand for the whole trip. But for the incredible performance we got, it was worth every penny. We’re hoping more shows will be announced, for it may become a summer of us following this amazing performer.