1 Jul 2014

Jack White at Glastonbury

With Metallica and their faithful metalhead following being the top talking point on Saturday at Glastonbury, it's easy to forget who else is on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday. But when the subheadline slot's occupied by the shamanic genius of Jack White, well, Metalli-who? After his second solo LP landing earlier this month, as well as one of the most illustrious cannons of material in music, Jack White's Glasto set couldn't be anything short of genius. And it was probably more than that, as the legend that is Jack White took to the stage clad all in black like the master of the dark, bluesy arts that he is.

But then after opening up the set with a rockabilly blues jam session lasting only a minute, White proceeded to play Icky Thump; the venomous rant from the White Stripes 2007 swansong of the same name, as his first proper 'song' of the set, which was received brilliantly by the damp crowd. He then launched into another Stripes classic, Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground off of White Blood Cells, which was again delivered with all the charisma and energy of White.

The owner of Third Man then stopped to address the crowd in his Nashville twang; 'I know you've been stood out in the rain hours, but that means you love music. And I'm with you on that one!', before propelling the band into the first of a number of Lazaretto album tracks; the string accompanied instrumental High Ball Stepper. But White wasn't done with the Stripes tracks just yet; White Blood Cells' upbeat acoustic Hotel Yorba was the third track from his first band that he played, and that wasn't to be the last, because he played no less than ten White Stripes songs, which is alone enough to make it the performance of the weekend.

But of course, the fuzzy bass and vicious delivery of the title track from his new record, Lazaretto, was a highlight, as too was Missing Pieces, the sole song from Blunderbuss in the set and the teetering acoustic Temporary Ground. As well as that, Jack got behind the gothic sounding church organ for Three Women, and the slide guitarist even whipping out a Theremin at one point. Jack White, unlike so many before him (sharing a stage with Robert Plant emphasises it too) has been able to reinvent himself as a genius solo artist after their seminal band folded.

Jack White's band are quite arguably the most talented band he's worked with, bar maybe the Dead Weather, so the jams throughout the set were truly something to behold; but one of course  stood out. Towards the end of the set, Jack played another great Stripes song perfectly, and itwas definitely brilliant. But amidst the feedback at the end was one of the most memorable bits of Jack White's set, from the ashes of Cannon arose a heavy distorted riff; the riff, that is, to Metallica's Enter Sandman. Whilst it was only an extended jam without words, White's tribute to the oncoming metal act was brilliant.

But what rounded off White's charismatic Pyramid performance though, was the encore. It's not often that an artist not headlining gets called back for extras, but the Pyramid Stage's crowd would be damned if they didn't want more White. After closing the main set with Lazaretto, Jack's encore consisted of two of the best loved White Stripes songs. First was the romping blues epic, Ball and Biscuit, which is a real fan favourite, but the closer was something even better received...

With one of the most easily recognisable basslines, and iconic riffs of all time, the White Stripes Seven Nation Army is a 21st century classic if ever there was one. And of course when White and his band launched themselves into it, it was something altogether; probably the moment of the festival; 50,000 damp Jack White fans belting out the "der der-der-der-der-der der" of Seven Nation Army,  what a spectacle!

But overall, Jack White's balance of White Stripes and stunning solo stuff ensured that his set was one of the best of the whole festival. In fact, I'd go so far to say he was armed with one of the greatest setlists, ever - see the bottom of the page. Where others crumble, Jack White and his new and ever-increasingly eccentric material are one of today's musical strongholds; after Lazaretto, White can't put a foot wrong.

Details: Jack White, live at Glastonbury, 28th June.
Instrumental Jam
Icky Thump
Dead Leaves on Dirty Ground
High Ball Stepper
Hotel Yorba
Temporary Ground
Just One Drink
Missing Pieces
Black Math
You Don't Know What Love is (You Just Do as You're Told)
Cannon/Enter Sandman
Three Women
We're Going to Be Friends
Ball and Biscuit
Seven Nation Army

Rating: 10/10