Thursday, July 26, 2007

The White Stripes Live in Boston 7/23/07

The first impression I had of tonight's concert was how bizarre the Agganis Arena seating arrangement was. In addition to all the sections with chairs around the side, the floor was divided into two sections, for no obvious reason, one up front and one that had a barrier halfway down the floor. That ended up working out well for me though, as I got there an hour before the show and ended up second row, dead center. If we'd reach, I almost could have shaken Jack White's hand. The first floor section wasn't near full though - if I was in the second I would have been mad with 30 feet of empty floor space in front of me.

Dan Sartain was fun once again. He mixed up the setlist a bit, but it was nice to sort of know some of the songs. He also added another guitar in addition to the hollow-body, a standard electric. The three songs I remembered to find later were Flight of the Phoenix (turns out it's Finch), Panama City Beach, USA, and one with a chorus of hoo-hoo-ha-ha-hoo-hoo-ha-wellcomeon. Still working on identifying that last one.

He got off at 8 so I assumed the Stripes would be on at 8:30, but it was almost 9 before they took the
stage. The first nice surprise was that the audience didn't move. No pushing to get to the front, no shoving anyone out of the way, no moshing at all. Some people have called the crowd lame as a result, but it worked out great for me. Much quicker intro today, straight into Dead Leaves followed by When I Hear My Name. The latter seemed significantly longer than yesterday's, extended with a few flailing solos.

From there he grabbed the white acoustic and went into another fast version of Hotel Yorba. The crowd didn't seem as into it as in Portland though, and that lack of overall energy was reflected in the performance as well. Jack then grabbed the hollow body and went into my first new song of the night, 300 mph Torrential Outpour Blues. And what a song it was, Jack channeling his inner Robert Johnson with some great acoustic slide work and funky rhythmic breaks. A song that didn't do much for me on record, it exploded live. The Stripes perform plenty of blues, but they should do more quieter ones like this.

Grabbed the Airline guitar again for a familiar riff, Cannon (sounded like Dead Leaves at first). A absurdly high-energy version during which hen jerked and flailed all over the stage of this led into another great I'm Slowly Turning Into You. It was about the same as last night, but just as fun, and the crowd loved it just as much. The techs weren't quick enough picking up after him though, and his guitar cord kn
ocked over all his other guitars when he came down from the second level. Jack neither noticed nor cared.

Next came an early highlight of the night, an incredible cover of Blind Willie McTell's Lord, Send Me an Angel. They've covered it life frequently over the years, and even released a promo single of it in 2000, but it hasn't lost any of its life. Loud, but unusually beautiful for them. It featured a lot of Jack vocals about himself ("These Boston girls won't let Mr. Jack White rest!") that got enormous applause each time.

From there it was another one I saw last night, Catch Hell Blues. He seemed way more into it tonight, really wailing for all he was worth before leaping back into that little picking part. He hit the keys again for a song I associate with last night's Mother's Heart, Same Boy You've Always Known. The take was very focused, with vocals fluctuating between straight and banshee shriek seemingly uncontrollably. Then into another In the Cold Cold Night, about the same as last night's. The one difference was that Jack seemed more into is - when Meg played the riff on organ, instead of playing the same thing he did some loud chords soloing of his own.

I'd thought Apple Blossom yesterday was a surprise, but apparently not as he played it again today. It lost a little something as the crowd around me wasn't as into it as they were last night, but a nice little song regardless. He ended over by Meg's kit and went straight into Hello Operator, an old song I'd never seen before. It was loose, sounding on the border of falling apart, and turned out better for it.

About this time something interesting happened. This really loud fluctuating noise almost like an air raid siren started. It didn't sound like feedback exactly, and Jack moving around didn't fix it. He went over to Meg and loudly yelled "What?", to which she just shrugged. It didn't stop, so he knelt down and crossed himself. A pretty funny scene, but he might have been frustrated as the set ended pretty abruptly soon after. Not before Icky Thump though, which featured him grabbing the hand mic on the back amp for the "you're an immigrant too" line, before throwing it over Meg's drum kit halfway through the verse.

The last song of the set was the perennial audience favorite (and one he played live with Bob Dylan in '04) Ball and Biscuit. I always want to like it more than I actually do though, and tonight was no exception.

The main set was excellent, but the encore was really where it got interesting (for better and worse). The break beforehand was exceptionally long. I saw one of the stagehands hurriedly whisper to another after a couple minutes and he scurried off setting up the bass! So I knew what was coming as Jack grabbed it and went into My Doorbell. This may be one of the most drastic reinventions they've ever done, from catchy little piano ditty to distorted bass screecher (the first time Jack's even played the instrument no less) and the general consensus is sucks. I was pleased to hear it, and one of the reasons I love the band is that they take risks, but this one was a swing and a miss. In a big way. The bass could be cool on other songs (a slower Blue Orchid comes to mind) but coupled with the bouncy melody he's singing here it sounds absolutely ridiculous. By the end I was laughing at how bad it was.

They didn't let that slow them down though, as from the worst song of the night they quickly transitioned into the best song. Or should I say songs. Lots of them. Without a setlist, they fly off the cuff, but this took it to a new level. Jack played the riff to I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself once, then played the I Think I Smell a Rat riff once. Back to Myself, to Rat, and back and forth, leaving the audience guessing which song he'd end up singing. It turned out to be Rat, but he didn't stay there long as he quickly switched to singing Screwdriver. A verse or two of that and he was suddenly playing the Rag and Bone riff as intensely as I've seen. Never actually sang it though, as after a verse of that riff he was back into Screwdriver. And then back to I Think I Smell a Rat to close ouit the medley. and as if that wasn't enough, there were chunks of Dead Leaves, Cool Drink of Water, and some line about gasoline thrown in there for good measure. So basically, seven songs in one, maybe more. Ridiculous.

Seven Nation Army was mostly the same as yesterday (though the stop/start arrangement was gone), but Boll Weevil was much more fun, for one reason...the monologues. As he began he talked about how great it was to play Boston and how they'd be back soon and before the third verse he talked for quite a bit. Something along the lines of "Well this last verse is about myself, a topic you've already heard way too much about to night. But if you'll just indulge me this one last time that would be grand. And at the end we'd like everyone out there, you, and you, and you, to sing a long with us. That would make Meg and I ever so happy. If you do, we might even come clean out your garage for you, right Meg? The words are, he's looking for a home." One verse, two choruses, one bow, and they were gone.


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