Sep 30, 2012

On the scene: Jack White Sells Out Fans at Sold-Out Show at Radio City Music Hall, 9.29.12

Reviewed by Liz Maher exclusively for Stupefaction - thanks Liz!:

WTF? That was the reaction of the audience of  Jack White fans as they sat in disbelief when after 50 minutes, White left the stage and refused to come out for an encore.

The audience, who paid a steep price for tickets, either from White's Third Man site or Ticketmaster or even higher from Stubhub or other resale sites, clearly expected more than 50-minutes of White. After an explosive opening, White chided the audience for not applauding loud enough, comparing them to people at an NPR convention. Since the crowd was cheering loudly, this was a little odd.

White then played mostly tunes from Blunderbuss with a White Stripe, Dead Weather and Raconteurs song thrown in.

The show was going along pretty good, except when White would talk in a Bob Dylan voice and even sang the beginning of Top Yourself Dylan-esque. At one point, he mentioned he loved NYC and then sarcastically referred to "the 10% of the audience who were cheering so loud he couldn't hear himself think." Again, strange since mostly everyone was cheering, clapping and into it. After covering, Love Interruption, to the crowd's applause, White asked the crowd, with some annoyance in his voice, if he should do the rest of the show in  all acoustics. That would have been fine as with him playing, it's bound to be great. White went onto play I Guess I Should Go To Sleep and Hypocritical Kiss and Take Me With You When You Go on piano and guitar.  Follow-up by  Ball & Biscuit, after which White left the stage not to be seen again. Wide disbelief through the hall. Cheering and booing (certainly) didn't work. After 25 minutes the ushers came around and asked everyone to clear the arena.

At the concession stand, people were simultaneously returning and purchasing White merchandise.

So why did White cut the performance so short? Surely it couldn't have been the quality of the sound, since all those things get worked out ahead of time and White agreed and accepted compensation to perform a show there. And why then stiff a loyal fan base that had to endure a sound he himself wasn't pleased with but put up with out of love and respect for him? Was it the cell-phone people? He hates them but did not refer to them. Radio City staff did ask a women from the audience with a cell-phone to go with them. Was it the faux-redheaded band photographer who also rubbed the audience the wrong way? Hhhhmmm...

As a White fan, I feel puzzled and short-changed. Encores are part of the whole concert experience and actually create some superficial feeling of intimacy between fan and performer. I could live without encores, though, if the show itself was a respectable length. Robert Smith once reminisced that before he got big with the Banshees and Cure, he was a big Rolling Stones fan and was terribly disappointed after he saved up to pay Stones' high ticket price and traveled very far to see them perform, only for them to play a barely 30 minute show. He vowed never to do same to his fans.

Unless White suddenly became ill or had a family emergency, it was a diva stunt. Or ill-conceived marketing stunt? Or somehow S&M fan punishment, stemming from a repressive upbringing as a Catholic in bleak Detroit.

But, then again, he's a genius so we are supposed to accept these types of things. On the plus side, I hope this make his tickets easier to get and cheaper.

White will be back Sunday to disappoint and piss-off fans once again.


Anonymous said...

in other news.... EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE is more important then this!

- vomitas pluribas

Tim Broun said...

That goes for 99% of what I read on the internet!

quims said...

Thanks for this piece - I've got a ticket to see him in the UK and am still looking forward to it....just hope he doesn't go for the shortest ever concert prize again - that WOULD make me lose my rag!

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