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- Posted on May 22nd 2012 1:00PM by Dan Reilly
Erika Goldring, Getty Images
Rather than write up yet another narrative review of the show, here are the observations I jotted down. Full disclosure: These notes are most likely "enhanced" by the fact that the venue, at least where I stood, was pretty much a cloud of pot smoke. And it's saying something that I was taken aback by that, given that I was at Roseland recently for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros concert/contact-high party.
-- White might have the most punctual audience in rock 'n' roll. Despite the fact that he was slated to go on at 9:10PM (he actually went on around 10:10), hundreds of fans were lined up, in the rain, around the block before doors opened at 7. I'll admit that at one point, I thought about telling the ones on 53rd street that they were actually in line for the musical version of "Sister Act," but I'm not that much of a jerk.
-- The audience was once again barred from shooting photos and video, per White's orders. The rule didn't seem like it was being as strictly enforced as White's SXSW show, when fans were getting ejected left and right. Maybe people are learning?
-- White's guy drummer, Daru Jones, is amazing. Positioned at the front of the stage to White's right side, he often gets so carried away while hitting the skins that he propels himself off his seat. Second to White, he's the most exciting part of the show.
-- Speaking of the bands, the whole "which band will Jack play with tonight, the women or the men?" thing feels a bit gimmicky. I guess he wants to keep the shows interesting for himself, but having seen both groups, it didn't really add any value for me. Also, I felt kind of sexist for thinking it at first, but some friends and colleagues agreed with me -- Jack seems to rock out harder with the guys. I'm not sure what that's about -- it's certainly not ability, because both bands are full of top-notch players -- but that's the impression I got after seeing two shows where he performed a set with each.
-- Another aspect of his live show that's getting fussed over is that White is supposedly playing without setlists, opting to call out the songs on a whim. Having looked over his recent setlists, there's not too much variation, so I'm not sure why people are making such a big deal about it. It's not like he's up there taking requests, Springsteen-style. Again, I think this might be more interesting to Jack than it is to me. But hey, if it helps him perform as well as he does, more power to him.
-- At one point, my notes just say "'Hello Operator.' Rules." I stand by it.
-- People really go nuts for "Ball and Biscuit." This also reminds me that I haven't had a good biscuit in a while.
-- For all of Jack's wanting to change up the live experience for himself and fans, he still does that annoying "take a break towards the end of the set and keep everyone waiting for a while" schtick. This is not to single him out, as this is pretty much par for the course these days -- I just get annoyed by it. Off the top of my head, I can only remember a few shows where a band actually came out for a real "let's give them what they want" encore. I really wish that would make a bigger comeback.
-- Bitching aside, the final set was amazing. "Freedom at 21," "Steady, As She Goes," "Take Me With You When You Go" and, with a sweet slide-guitar "Catch Hell Blues" intro, "Seven Nation Army." For a man who seems to constantly need to reinvent himself, I'm not sure how White will top this part of his career -- but I'm definitely looking forward to it.