The Dead Weather @ First Avenue
Chris Farley once did a memorable skit on Saturday Night Live where he turned into a bumbling fan while interviewing Paul McCartney. The same thing happened to me last week when I met Jack White after the Dead Weather show inMinneapolis.
The only words I could manage to stumble over were, “great show” and “I have seen you play 7 times and they have all been amazing.” Before he was escorted onto his bus by his manager White’s response was, “cool.”
The show at First Avenue was the second visit of the Dead Weather, occurring almost a year after their first. The band is becoming less of a side project for Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age & Raconteurs), Jack Lawrence (The Greenhorns & Raconteurs), and Jack White (The White Stripes & Raconteurs), and more of a full-time group into their second album and tour.
The Dead Weather has the modern guitar legend White strapped behind the drum kit, Fertita ferociously clawing on organ and guitar, Mosshart seductively performing on guitar and lead vocals, and Lawrence anchoring on bass. They attack your senses and strip your ears violently till they ring.
Last year when I saw the Dead Weather perform at First Avenue it was one of their very first live shows as a band. It was so impressive that when I charted my vacation out west to Yellowstone a month later I added stops in Denver and Salt Lake City to watch them play consecutive nights. All three shows consisted of exactly the same set list of songs back then, which made me focus a bit more on the crowds’ reaction to the music. This year the show in Minneapolis was loose and had longer solos/jams added. There was even a point where it all uncharacteristically stopped.
On “I Cut Like A Buffalo” the band began playing the opening of the song and then White interrupted and stopped performing. He was motioning and yelling to Fertita to quit, and then the band went into “No Horse” instead. After the initial set “Buffalo” was revisited in the encore, but it was rare to see a band start a song and then go into a different one instead.
The First Avenue show opened with the band doing “The Difference Between Us” and “I’m Mad”, which set the ominous tone for the evening. Like Alice Cooper or Rob Zombie, The Dead Weather’s shadowy side is tongue in cheek darkness. They dress in all black and the backdrop was of an all-seeing eye.
White came out from behind the drums on “You Just Can’t Win” (a Them cover) and sang the first verse standing behind the mic. He quickly retreated to his kit for the remainder of the song, but what stood out was the way White let his voice trail off during the chorus in his own falsetto manner.
The crowd got a bit pushy as usual once they got into the band’s music. It was pandemonium when White came out a second time from behind his drums and grabbed a guitar. During the song, “Will There Be Enough Water,” White sneaks out front and tears away some legendary guitar solos.
Last year when I saw the band play live White annihilated the piece of music, breaking a string at two out of three of the shows I attended. This year he was dragging it out longer, but at the show I saw it wasn’t the same as before. Jack White never used a set list while he owned rock in the White Stripes and usually just played through what he felt. The Dead Weather on the other hand is very rehearsed, and since he only plays guitar on one song he may be growing tired of his only solo.
The evening concluded with an excellent rendition of my new favorite Dead Weather song, “Jawbreaker.” It is catchy and when played during the encore it created quite a stir in the crowd. The moment that “Jawbreaker” was played turned the course of the crowd and made them all dance. As the band bowed at in the end Lawrence took his bass and smashed it into the ground. He then began jumping onto the already wounded instrument as it lay on the floor. This was a bit surprising as I have never seen him do this in a show before.
After the spectacle I asked Lawrence about why he threw his bass on the stage and stomped on it. He responded quietly as usual with a “yeah, I was mad.” When I prodded further he just smiled, softly chuckled, and signed a few autographs.
I happened to park right by the band’s tour bus so when each member came out I talked with them, took a few pictures, and my wife got them to sign the First Avenue concert poster. They all obliged the fans requests and were extremely polite.
All around it was a great show by a very talented band.
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The Difference Between Us
60 Feet Tall
You Just Can't Win (Them cover)
So Far From Your Weapon
I Cut Like A Buffalo (cut short)
Die By The Drop
Blue Blood Blues
Hustle And Cuss
New Pony (Dylan cover)
Will There Be Enough Water
Hang You From The Heavens
I Cut Like A Buffalo
Treat Me Like Your Mother
"Will There Be Enough Water"