I’ve been lucky to witness a number of amazing guitarists perform live over the years: Prince, Richard Thompson, Mike Campbell, Slash, The Edge, Kirk Hammett, Mike McCready, Nels Cline and Neil Young to name a few. On Monday night, I finally saw my biggest remaining bucket list guitarist, Jack White, at the Minneapolis Armory.
A relative rarity in Minnesota, the show sold out instantly and the hype was thick. The White Stripes. The Raconteurs. The Dead Weather. Third Man Records. It Might Get Loud. Portlandia. The Muppets. Hell, he even played Elvis in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Everybody wants to see Jack.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first (I’m trying to live online by the “Thumper Rule,” but these things nearly sunk the whole night for me). The venue sent out an email the week before describing the no cell phone thing with Yondr:
No photos, video or audio recording devices allowed. This includes smart phones, flip phones, rotary phones, smart watches, tablets, smart glasses, VR goggles, action cameras, selfie sticks, pen-top spy cameras, baby monitoring devices, walkie talkies, laptops, desktop computers, or any other technological device that may distract you or others from this experience.
We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON.
Upon arrival at the venue, all phones and other photo or video-capturing gizmos will be secured in a Yondr pouch that will be unlocked at the end of the show. You keep your pouch-secured phone on you during the show and, if needed, can unlock your phone at any time in a designated Yondr Phone Zone located in the lobby.
It’s fine to believe you can’t live “in the moment” with your devices, but restricting people’s freedom to make decisions on their own doesn’t seem to be the answer to me. Sure some people are jerks at concerts with phones, but if the goal is to “experience music and our shared love of it,” then let’s get rid of the loud, pushy drunks, the people who can’t stop talking during the show and the super tall people that jam their way in front of the shorter guests. That last part was especially bad at the Armory, which doesn’t have a sloped floor (or a particularly high stage).
Locking phones in a pouch has several other problems – even with providing an “unlock zone” in the lobby. My daughter was sick and did not attend, so I couldn’t get text updates on her health without losing my spot on the very crowded GA floor. I also couldn’t text my friends to find them in the large space or see if the venue manager I knew might be working. If there is a safety event with security, police or drunks, no one can record the incident. I couldn’t record any song snippets to show my sick daughter later. I couldn’t check set times or weather forecasts during the wait between sets. Or use Apple Pay to buy drinks. Or pull up mobile tickets.
But hey, we were all “in the moment.” ?
I do give props to the photo sharing policy:
For those looking to do some social media postings, let us help you with that. The official tour photographer will be posting photos and videos after the show at jackwhiteiii.com and the new Jack White Live Instagram account @officialjackwhitelive. Repost our photos & videos as much as you want…
The tour photographer is David James Swanson, who has been with Jack for a while and did a great job in Minneapolis with this show. I was initially disappointed on the train ride home, as I couldn’t find any of the photos online. This morning I found size-optimized versions and eventually found links to the full-size originals (which are in the gallery below). I hope Mr. Swanson is getting fairly compensated from the tour for the multiple people and publications I’ve seen use his photos today (with and without attribution).
On to the main event…
Country singer Tyler Childers was already on stage by the time we made it through the general admission line that stretched down the block (likely lengthened by the extra Yondr and ticket resolution steps added to ingress). His band played until about 8:45 to an audience that was clearly more focused on talking and drinking (even though Childers was quite good).
During the intermission, a graphic was displayed on the video screens behind the stage depicting a recording studio with a prominent digital clock sitting on the console. Like recent Lady Gaga and Def Leppard concerts, a countdown timer started at ten minutes, only to be interrupted by a mischievous Jack White who would bump the remaining time up and down. After about two to three minutes of additional “stoppage” time, the main act was on stage.
Since I hadn’t read about other tour stops, I didn’t know who he would be playing with or what the mix of songs would be (other than my assumption of a lot of songs from the new album). With six White Stripes albums, three solo and the handful of side project albums, there is a lot of material to choose from. Minneapolis ended up with 21 total songs (sixteen song main set, five song encore), which had a really nice distribution:
- Boarding House Reach – 7
- Blunderbuss – 3
- The White Stripes – 1
- De Stijl – 1
- White Blood Cells – 2
- Elephant – 3
- Get Behind Me Satan – 1
- Icky Thump – 1
- The Dead Weather – 1
- The Raconteurs – 1
Not sure why 2014’s Lazaretto was skipped, as there are several kick ass songs on that album – High Ball Stepper, That Black Bat Licorice and Three Women are all personal favorites. The four musicians playing with Jack were tight all night: drummer Carla Azar, bass player Dominic Davis and the two keyboardists Neal Evans and Quincy McCrary.
I loved the Beck cover mashup and My Doorbell had the dual surprises of Jack playing drums and the birthday song with his kids on stage. I was happy with how strong and familiar many of the new songs came across, even though some dumbasses around me complained about “the new shit” and proceeded to talk/shout during them. It was also funny that Jack said he wrote Hotel Yorba yesterday and people around me were like, wow, he wrote this yesterday!
The two reviews I read, Jon Bream at the Star Tribune and Erik Thompson at City Pages, were both favorable and most people I know who went had a good time. I don’t agree with the City Pages comments on the cell phone policy, but if that floats your boat, go you…
- Over and Over and Over
- Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
- Freedom at 21
- Devil’s Haircut/Cannon
- Why Walk a Dog?
- The Hardest Button to Button
- Hotel Yorba
- Little Bird
- My Doorbell
- Hypocritical Kiss
- Respect Commander
- I Cut Like a Buffalo
- Ball and Biscuit
- Icky Thump
- Steady, As She Goes
- Ice Station Zebra
- Connected By Love
- Seven Nation Army
(images by David James Swanson)