The night began with a terrible pain and ended with supreme bliss. The opening act was Tyvek; a band yielding from Jack Whites home state of Michigan. There was no connection between the opener and the audience before them. Soon after taking the stage boos starting emanating from the crowd, and when they left their was a mild applause. When The Dead Weather took the stage, the building erupted in a explosion of cheers. Their set was intense and had the band pouring themselves into every song. After leaving the stage, about half the fans stuck around and cheered for a second encore for nearly 20 minutes. The evening ended on a high note, and the early openers were a forgotten memory.
The fan base and desire of a band can be judged on many scales. One of the easiest ways to tell if a band has a strong following of dedicated, eager fans is to see how quickly and how early the floor fills up at the Commodore Ballroom. On this night the floor was full before the opener even took the stage, which is almost unheard of. Mini mosh pits erupted, while the anticipation built in the mass on the floor. This was a diverse crowd, with huge ranges in age, culture and especially in sociological groupings. There were jocks, goths, punks, straight edge, nerds, music snobs, and just average joes, all coming together for a single means.
With the anticipation of Jack and Alison, the lights dimmed and the opener took the stage. This was a trio from Detroit, with a very unorthodox playing style and unique band arrangement. Tyvek consists of a male singer/guitarist, a male drummer, and a female bassist. The most unusual part was the style of the drummer who stood the entire set, banging on the skins like a spastic monkey. The sound was great, and his timing was impeccable but his facial expression and visual performance were distracting. Having a style which is something like a folk, punk, rockabilly hybrid, they had a hard time getting the crowd to accept them.
Through out the set the band seemed to be nervous but I suspect this is their style. Lyrically most of their songs are very playful and just plain fun. This was not the act the mass of eager people wanted to see, they wanted pure passion and bluesy rock. Soon laughter turned to boos, and soon the boos turned in to demands for them to leave the stage. At times their would be a quick connection, as some would find themselves entranced with the beat of a song. Once the lyrics came out this entrancement faded and the crowd once again shook their heads and booed. Overall the band was great, but this was not what the crowd wanted, and they found it to be a hard pill to swallow. So into the shadows the band sauntered off stage, and a sigh of relief was released by all.
After a brief 20 minute hiatus the lights dropped again, screams and cheers could be heard throughout the venue. Four dark characters emerged from the curtains and took their places on the stage. A blue light washed over the mass before the band, and the band dove into their set. My first reaction was pure awe, this album they were on tour for (Horehound) did not do these songs justice. Live is the only way to experience the pure raw emotion they devote to every single aspect of these masterpieces. The interplay between the band is beautiful. Alison’s involvement with the crowd was intimate and fiery, she had them wrapped around her little finger the entire time.
Jack White was faded in the background, as he is not fronting this band. But he made every strike on those skins count, he bled into each song with an energetic passion. Dean and Lil’ Jack, held their own and were entertaining to watch, both playing with an enthusiasm which is rare these days. The band felt complete and unified, which contributed directly to the interplay they were displaying. The band and the crowd fed on each others energy, an intense back and forth became evident. Song after song the nights energy kept rising. The audience was like a grassy meadow in the breeze, swaying to every note, not a single blade out of place.
The lighting was more intense than any past shows I have seen Jack White partake in. Huge side strobes lit Alison, lil’ Jack and Dean, making for a memorable sight. Jack White was only back lit a few time through the night, again pulling his persona from the band and leaving the fronting to Alison. Near the last few songs prior to the encore, Mister White switched with Lil’ Jack and took place at the front of the stage, with his pearl white guitar. The mass of musical fanatics before him began screaming intensely, in anticipation. Jack strummed his way into Will There Be Enough Water, a duet with Alison. The passion and connection between the two was beautiful to see.
After the last note was played, the band stood before their fans and basked in the appreciation. Alison looked to be almost in tears from the crows reaction. Jack walked over to a mic and thanked the crowd finishing the night with “God bless you”. As quickly as they had arrived, they were gone. Everyone in that venue was bettered by the experience. Very few shows these days are as passionate and deep as this show was. Fans filtered out, and a mass of plastic cups lined the floor. The perfect night ended on the highest note possible. A feeling of satisfaction seemed to wash over every face I saw. This was the perfect show, and this band proved they were truly here for real.