Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Jack White and Lucius

The SSE Hydro, Glasgow - 18th November

Jack White

I was really looking forward to Jack White for a number of reasons. Although never a massive White Stripes fan, I had been impressed with the quality of many of Jack's recent songs (as demonstrated by the number of bands out there who like to add a Jack White cover to their live set e.g. First Aid Kit, Ryan Adams ). Aside from his own work, I also like a lot of his covers of other artists' work, ranging from Captain Beefheart to Bob Dylan via Adele. 

The Hydro is a fairly large venue for White's style of down and dirty club rock, but the upper tiers were curtained off and only the first balcony was available above the standing-only floor area. The support act Lucius had warmed the crowd up, and  the arena floor was almost full. After a request not to film or photograph the concert, White and his band took to the stage under the ubiquitous blue lighting. 

Such was the level of guitar noise, feedback and fuzz, I almost didn't recognise the opening song Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.

With few exceptions this was to be the theme of every song. 

The exceptions: Hotel Yorba, We're Going to Be Friends and Would You Fight for My Love? were really good, and White's band were excellent - particularly Daru Jones (drums) and Lillie Mae Rische (violin and backing vocals).

Aside from these, virtually every song was performed with volume overkill and a 2 minute break of guitar feedback and screaming keyboards or some bizarre and largely out of tune "air harp". White's vocals were not great, and I really felt that the whole performance was so self-indulgent that it should merit an entrance fee refund.

Hugely disappointed, muttering Jack White rhyming slang under my breath, I left before the end of the first set. 

On reflection I began to think that perhaps my perception of the show was skewed, and somehow I had misunderstood some mischievous piece of Jack White brilliance, but probably not - other reviewers shared my views ("a commitment to cacophony which came at the cost of the original song"). Thinking back, I also remember noticing that, as I left the venue, during what turned out to be the last song of the initial set, about a quarter of the crowd were in the bar and foyer area well away from the chaos inside.

Thank goodness for the support band!

-- Setlist (allegedly)--
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (White Stripes)
Hypocritical Kiss 
Hotel Yorba (White Stripes)
Temporary Ground 
Top Yourself (Raconteurs)
Broken Boy Soldier (Raconteurs)
I Fought Piranhas (White Stripes)
Love Interruption 
We're Going to Be Friends (White Stripes)
Sugar Never Tasted So Good (White Stripes)
Would You Fight for My Love? 
I'm Slowly Turning Into You (White Stripes)
-- Encore --
High Ball Stepper 
Steady, As She Goes (Raconteurs)
Fell in Love With a Girl (White Stripes)
Missing Pieces 
Freedom at 21 
That Black Bat Licorice 
Seven Nation Army 

The support were:


I had seen Lucius fairly recently in a tiny venue in Dublin, and enjoyed them a lot, so I wondered how their brand of harmony fueled, percussion driven set would fare in this size of venue. 

The 5 of them took to the stage to relatively muted applause. A few die-hard Lucius fan at the front making most of the noise. Without any preamble they launched into a raw version of "Go Home", a slow, sparse, drum driven beginning, which ended with powerful vocal harmonies and some of Peter Lalish's epic guitar licks. 

A truly Gothic version of Tempest was next, soaring harmonies by all five, followed by the wonderful drum sequence of Nothing Ordinary. They sounded great, despite the cavernous venue. The Jack White fans began to take notice.

Jess, as usual, did the introductions - "Good evening Glasgow!" she said "We're Lucius" (She pronounced it Loo-Shuss). Thanks to Jack White for allowing us to support".

Doreen, the new single was next, followed by Jess apologising for competing with the football that night (Scotland England friendly at Hampden). She said "Sorry about taking you away from the football tonight. I know nothing of these things - I'm more of a home economics kinda girl."

By the time they got to Wildewoman and Genevieve, Jess and Holly were doing impressive demented marionette dancing, enhanced by their blonde bobs and furry collars, and the Glasgow crowd were jigging and taking lots of pictures.

Wildewomen [Photo credit: David James Swanson]

Turn It Around was a lovely Farfisa sprinkled song with Jess and Holly drumming, singing and playing organ. 

Finally Jess introduced the last song " As we're in the UK it's only fitting that we do a Kinks cover" she said "This song is called Strangers and we're going to be joined by some special guests". Dominic Davis (bass guitar and upright bass) and Lillie Mae Rische (violin and backing vocals) from Jack White's band strolled on and Strangers was a genuine masterpiece with all three ladies sharing one microphone, with the guitars providing glorious backing. This was a very melodic, and nicely crafted finish to the set. 

The applause on their departure was considerably louder than on arrival. Perhaps a few new Lucius fans were born that night.

-- Setlist --
Go Home
Nothing Ordinary 
How Loud Your Heart Gets
Turn It Around
Strangers (Kinks cover)

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