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Conflicting reports are about to be swirling around the internet about Jack White’s performances at Radio City Music Hall this weekend. From a first night that was riddled with stage stage banter (some of the not-so-nice variety, like asking the crowd “Is this an NPR Convention?” with his trademark sarcasm helping to curl his upperlip) to a second show that boasts of nothing but straight to the point rock and roll, it was clear White was not happy at Radio City.  For whatever reason.

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Let me take it back for a minute and describe to you the utter confusion those of us who saw Saturday night’s gig felt after White cut the performance after a 12 song (roughly 50 minutes or so) set.  You see we were all excited, at least those I could hear and see around me, for the man/myth/legend that is Jack White to slide, thrash and shred across that beautiful vintage stage.  I mean if you put all the puzzle pieces together, this was supposed to be one of those shows that made history. White’s a successful and accomplished musician through many an act and he’s also riding high on the success of his first #1 album (Blunderbuss), so the deck was stacked… but maybe that’s the problem.

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You see Jack White is a mad genius, and dare I probably even suggest he’s full-on obsessive compulsive.  Every detail of that stage was meticulously thought out, down to the tiniest of detail (the Third Man Records logo, |||, was even emblazoned in the gels for the overhead lights).  His staff and road crew are impeccably dressed in black suits and blue ties (the same colors that’ll eventually light up the stage), all to keep with the color scheme of his solo persona crisp and clear. This was Jack White standing on his own two feet, ladies and gentleman.  And I respect the man for being so thought out, so pernickety about everything no matter what band he’s sitting in on or fronting.

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But maybe that’s the problem….  You want perfection, you expect perfection, but sometimes you just can’t be perfect.  I can’t speak to the actual reasons why White ended his set so abruptly, but many a rumor is surfacing.  And while White has been known to do some pretty ridiculous things (remember that time he and Meg only played one note at a show and truly pissed off a crowd of devoted fans?), he’s never one to be malicious about his decision.  What angry fans seem to forget is though this show could have been epic (and you know what? the 50-or-so minutes we got? Were epic. If anyone else says otherwise, they’re just being bratty), the warning signs were all there.  First, the opening band, as sweet as they were, complained throughout most of their set how terrible the sound was.  “Echoey” they called it, and as a patron I couldn’t hear that but I’m sure it made this extremely difficult for them… and for Jack too.  Second, even after being politely asked by a well-dress Third Man Records/Jack White roadie not to watch the show through the blue screen of your cellphone, most didn’t listen.  Hell, even I tweeted a picture of the madness I had just experienced after coming out of the photopit.

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Finally, and I say this with all the love in my heart for New York City but… where was the soul, guys?  People all around me WHO WERE ONCE VERY EXCITED TO SEE JACK WHITE just stood watching the show with their arms folded across their chests, sorta bobbing their head along to some of the best music that’s come out this year (/ever).  I mean, the lights alone were enough to get me throwing my hair around and pumping my fists in the air.  Add on those incredible riffs and the heart of that all-male backing band (who deserve an award for really putting themselves into every note they played) — you had a genuine rock show.  “We” just didn’t appreciate it.  So if I was Jack White, yeah I’d definitely be pissed.  And I’d definitely not give you the encore you so adamantly think you deserve.  The man loves to play music, it’s apparent in everything he says and does.  So I highly doubt he stormed off the stage for anything less than having to stare at a sea of nameless faces and iphone cameras, and some pretty intense sound issues.

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So I ask you, dear reader, who may or may not have seen Jack White before — what do you think?  Should an encore be guaranteed? Even if the sound and the crowd aren’t adding up?  Should ticket prices reflect how much music you see?  Should Jack White take a chill pill?Tell us in the comments.

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SETLIST (and photos) (Night One)

  1. Black Math  (The White Stripes song)

  2. Cannon (The White Stripes song)

  3. Sixteen Saltines

  4. Missing Pieces

  5. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground  (The White Stripes song)

  6. I Cut Like a Buffalo (The Dead Weather song)

  7. Top Yourself

  8. Love Interruption

  9. I Guess I Should Go to Sleep

  10. Hypocritical Kiss

  11. Take Me With You When You Go

  12. Ball and Biscuit (The White Stripes song)

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