Jack White showcases his weirdness and humanness at Minneapolis’ Armory

August 7, 2018

Indie-rock god Jack White relishes being weird.

When he had his popular duo the White Stripes, White insisted his partner in the group was his sister, not his actual ex-wife.

When he toured behind his debut solo album, White had two different backup bands the all-female Peacocks and the all-male Buzzcocks and he apparently switched them at random.

When he starred in the 2008 documentary It Might Get Loud with fellow guitar heroes Jimmy Page and the Edge, White adopted a personna and stayed in character throughout the movie.

On Monday night at the instantly sold-out Armory in Minneapolis, White was suitably weird, a 6 foot 2 ghost with a Michael Jackson Thriller era hairdo, black solo shirt, black parachute pants and black tennis shoes. The pale-faced man in black bathed himself in blue lights. Clearly, black and blue are the hues of White solo whereas red, white and black were the colors of the White Stripes.

For 110 minutes on Monday, the hyper White, 43, bounded around the Armory stage with maniacal energy, finding all kinds of ways to make his guitars squeal and screech, contort and distort, rumble and roar.

To complement his riveting guitar work, he sang into three different microphones on the same stand one clear, one distorted, one with special effects.

At one point, the rocker surprisingly stepped out of his weird Whiteness and became human for a few moments. In the middle of a version of the White Stripes very catchy hit My Doorbell, he abruptly halted the band and brought out his two children.

White, who has been very private about his personal life, explained that his son, Henry Lee, would be having a birthday the next day. So Dad led 7,000 people in singing Happy Birthday to the soon-to-be 11-year-old. Afterward, Dad kissed his son on the forehead, put a microphone in front of the kids face and Henry said, Thank you.

Has anyone ever accused Jack White of being sweet in public before?

Hey, he insists hes pretty much like the rest of us Midwesterners.

Listen Minnesota, Im from Michigan and were not that different, the Detroit-reared, Nashville-based White told the crowd early in the evening. Dont forget that.

Except he is that different. Whites world is a dark place musically. And hes touring behind his most radical record, Boarding House Reach, a polarizing and puzzling, self-consciously experimental work in which he changes musical styles in the middle of songs.

Nearly one-third of Mondays set list was devoted to selections from the new album. Over and Over and Over was herky jerky funk-rock, Humoresque was a creepy piano ballad and Corporation was anti-Trump freestyling over heavy guitar-meets-synthesizer sludge. Forgettable were the dirgey Why Walk a Dog?and the power ballad Connected by Love.

Ice Station Zebra may have been the best of the new bunch, with its machine-gun guitar blasts, primal rhythms and eventual jazzy guitar runs paired with piano vamping.

Backed by a drummer, bassist and two keyboardists, White acknowledged his lesser known bands, with a muscular reading of the Raconteurs Steady, as She Goes and Dead Weathers screamo blues I Cut Like a Buffalo. And he threw in a cover of Becks alt-rock classic Devils Haircut.

To the delight of the fans, White offered nine tunes from the White Stripes catalog, both well-known ones (Seven Nation Army, The Hardest Button to Button) and deep tracks (Cannon, Little Bird ).

Best of the White Stripes material were Icky Thump with Whites vitriolic rapping over classic-rock guitar riffs and Ball and Biscuit with Whites bluesy Robert Plant voice singing at Bob Dylan cadence before he tore into an over-the-top blues-rock guitar solo, rocking out so hard that he almost fell on his face.

For a change, White was just lost in musicmaking and not thinking about being weird.

Twitter: @JonBream 612-673-1719

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