Continuing on with his Supply Chain Issues Tour, Jack White brought blistering punk energy and rowdy grooves to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on April 21st. With longtime collaborators, Daru Jones on drums and Dominic Davis on bass, along with newcomer Quincy McRary on keys, the Third Man Records founder was in good spirits as he delivered a riveting set that reinforced both his reputation as one of the most compelling arena-level acts rock music has to offer as well as the overwhelming strength of his catalog. Spinning through a career-spanning set, from the first White Stripes album to this month’s experimental Fear Of The Dawn, the show found White in top form, reinvigorated and ready to throw down.
Freshly-reunited Nashville garage rockers Be Your Own Pet kicked off the night with a bang. “Are y’all fucking ready?!” guitarist Jonas Stein shouted as the quartet launched into a scorching set with an energy that never let up. Despite this marking the group’s first performance since their breakup in 2008, aside from an intimate warm-up gig the night before, any rust that might have collected had been completely shaken off by the time they hit the Barclays stage. Singer Jemina Pearl owned the arena stage as Stein and bassist Nathan Vasquez jumped and thrashed around her with abandon and drummer John Eatherly passionately slammed his kit on, including standout performances on “Wildcat!”, “Ouch”, and “Bunk Trunk Skunk”.
After a short break, the arena went dark and, from behind a floor-to-ceiling curtain with flashing lights casting their silhouettes at massive scale, Jack White and his band revved into gear, their instruments churning until White’s piercing yelp of “I’ll bet you do!” brought them together into the swaggering riffage of Fear of the Dawn opener “Taking Me Back” as the curtain rose to reveal them already at full-throttle. White’s playing and singing were downright ferocious out the gate as he segued seamlessly into the new album’s blistering title track and quickly followed it up with the White Stripes heavy-hitter “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”.
The whacked-out, spitfire energy that made Jack such a captivating live performer back in the White Stripes days was on full display in Brooklyn as he hopped and danced around the stage and flung himself at one of his microphones (he had multiple set up around the stage) just in time to sing a line. The self-serious tone that at times could bog down his shows behind Boarding House Reach and Lazaretto seemed to have been nearly completely shed, with White playing the role of Party Starter rather than Truth Teller this go around. That shift translated to his playing as well, indulging in less lengthy solos and guitar hero theatrics and playing around more with short, kinetic bursts of noise and a steadier back-and-forth interplay with his bandmates.
The main set saw Jack largely shy away from both his biggest hits and his new album in favor of a deeper, more wide-ranging assortment of tunes, including his cover of U2’s “Love Is Blindness”, the Raconteurs’ song “You Don’t Understand Me” with White on piano and Davis and McRary filling in the vocals on the chorus, and a walloping rendition of the Stripes’ “Black Math”.
White strapped on his acoustic guitar for a pair of songs set to appear on his next record Entering Heaven Alive, the gentle “Love Is Selfish”, which was carried on a dreamy bed of organ and the steady thump of Davis’ double bass, and the McCartney-esque “Queen Of The Bees” which sounded much punchier and more vibrant live than on the studio version released last month. “Lazaretto” proved to be one of the high points of the night as the group tore into the 2014 solo cut with fiery, unbridled energy, and the subsequent “Cannon”, which led into the Hound Dog Taylor tune “Give Me Back My Wig” and then into the Stripes’ “Catch Hell Blues” before circling back, proved that there’s still no one who can meld blues and punk with gothic flair quite like Jack White.
After closing with “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” White and company returned to the stage for a stacked encore. Leading off with an electrifying “Icky Thump” to a roar of excitement from the crowd, they kept things raging with “Sixteen Saltines” and found one of their grimiest grooves of the night on the Dead Weather standout “I Cut Like a Buffalo”. “Steady As She Goes” came together like an anthem, with Jack entreating the audience to sing the “Are you steady now?” refrain as the band built up into a powerful finale.
It would have made for a fantastic ending to the night on its own if, of course, there wasn’t one more song that needed to be played, and the crowd was already chanting that ubiquitous riff before Jack had even switched guitars. He blasted through “Seven Nation Army” with cutthroat energy, escalating the iconic song into slide guitar mayhem before delivering his signature sign off of “You’ve been incredible, and I’ve been Jack White” and letting the noise slowly fade out as the musicians made their exit.