• Gabrielle Bossy

Jack White: pushing boundaries and having more fun than ever, Detroit & Grand Rapids April 2018

Jack White is a musician that doesn't take it easy on stage. Whether he’s completely reworking an old White Stripes song or playing on a beat up acoustic, there is always an element of struggle and progression in Jack’s work. As such, it’s often easy to see where he fucks up but at other times, he takes those flaws and turns them into a work of art on stage.

Recently releasing a new album called Boarding House Reach, Jack has pushed his limits once again to create a full package of bizarre, transcendent songs that are pulling in some mixed reviews. Whether you like it or not though, you have to admit White isn’t playing it safe and he is definitely pushing the envelope. Watch these tracks performed on stage and White will force feed you the new songs, making you like them- even if you didn’t think they were for you. Read on for how he did just this at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Thursday and 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Little Caesars Arena, Detroit (April 19th 2018)

Jack White performs "Hotel Yorba" (The White Stripes) with his mother / Photo by: David James Swanson

White kicked off his tour at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Thursday and as always it was a special hometown show worthy of White’s return. He opened the night with the new single “Over and Over and Over”, backed by a mix of new and old musicians (returning, Carla Azur and Dominic Davis) and a group of four soulful backup singers who popped on and off stage through out the evening. Immediately from here, White moved into the White Stripes’ “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”, a song he favoured heavily on the last tour and one that never fails to get a crowd moving.

Not forgetting about the new album, Jack followed up with two more tracks- “Corporation”- a song that White described as a true story and “Why Walk a Dog”- a song that I did not care for one iota the first time I heard it but that came to life when given a little breathing room on stage. Still, White Stripes fans were appeased when Jack slammed into “Cannon” and then essentially had the crowd sing “Hello Operator” back to him.

The highlight of the evening however was White’s performance of “Hotel Yorba” where he brought his mother out on stage with him. At nearly half his height, White shared the microphone with his mom, taking on the majority of vocals himself before setting down the microphone and guitar and doing a little polka with his mom around the stage.

Ending the main act with “Ball and Biscuit” White returned to the stage for an epic six-song encore with “Don't Hurt Yourself”, a song he worked on with Beyoncé and then the first single off his album “Connected by Love”. From there- the energy picked up noticeably in the room once more as he ended the evening on some old favourites: “My Doorbell”, “Sixteen Saltines”, the always beloved “Carolina Drama” by the Raconteurs and perhaps in a rather cliché way, “Seven Nation Army”. With ears ringing, White’s fans spilled into the street, unlocking their phones from their Yonder pouches and mentally filing the set list away. What a return.

20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids (April 21st 2018)

Photo by David James Swanson

The show in Grand Rapids started similar to Detroit, but ended on a totally different note (albeit, I'll admit the final track was once again "Seven Nation Army"). Opening with "Battle Cry" (instrumental) before heading into three tunes he had performed two nights prior, we didn't think we'd see much different. Well...we should have known that no two White shows are EVER the same --hense why we would go see two shows so close together). White stripped down and slowed down "Fell in Love with a Girl" to a totally different version than I'd ever heard before, did a Hounddog Taylor cover and even performed a bitchin' "Blue Orchid"--- a track I haven't heard him play since the 7.7.7. show with The White Stripes in London.

The encore in Grand Rapids was something pretty special in my books. Absolutely killing it with the crowd so that the whole theatre was bouncing up and down in waves, White came back to "Icky Thump" followed by The Raconteurs' "Steady as she Goes". Just when we thought we were ready to sweat it out for another high-energy jam though, White slowed things right down and debuted "Humouresque", a slow tune backed by some pretty beautiful piano work. It was completely smashing. Closing out the night, White ripped through "Little Room" and of course, "Seven Nation Army", duplicating the energy by creating something completely different on a different night.

Peace, love & history.

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