It’s fair to say that Roseland Ballroom has never before seen a gothic, powder-blue tuxedo-clad guitar player, flanked by a collective of waiflike women, deliver a set that ripped through country-soul, jukebox blues, steamy ballads and rock & roll stomp—all while commanding a disparate crowd high on equal parts whiskey and weed.
Leading off with the triple punch of “Sixteen Saltines,” “Missing Pieces” and “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” on the second night of his sold-out pair of gigs in New York, Jack White, one could wonder, was maybe rolling out the fan favorites too fast. But the man effectively destroyed any such notions, releasing a veritable onslaught of hits during his 90-minute set.
Demonstrating his ineffable aptitude as a bandleader, White piloted an ace backing group, the Peacocks, which was comprised of women of all shapes, colors and hair lengths. No instrument was left behind, from the fiddle to the slide guitar to the double bass (helmed by a very pregnant player). Each lady was a virtuoso in her own right—not least White’s firecracker of a drummer, whose energy literally lifted her out of her seat several times—and kept up adroitly with the freewheeling guitar improvisations White engaged in several times.
White’s set list spanned all of his previous incarnations: Besides songs from his excellent solo record Blunderbuss, he delivered gems from his undertakings with the Raconteurs, the White Stripes, the Dead Weather, and even Rome, his swoonsome collaboration with Daniele Luppi and Danger Mouse. Highlights included gut-wrenching duet “Love Interruption,” the hoedown-happy “Hotel Yorba,” a raucous rendition of “We’re Going to Be Friends” and angsty Southern ballad “Carolina Drama”—all of them masterpieces of throwback Americana as seen through White’s brilliant garage-rock lens.
Having closed out the first set with a rawer-than-raw version of “Ball and Biscuit,” White and his Peacocks left the stage. An encore was expected, but not in the VIP section, stage left; this is where White eventually reappeared with his all-male band in tow, Los Buzzardos (who had accompanied him the night before). Four songs into the second set, the night climaxed with the religiously chanted-along closer, “Seven Nation Army,” where the crowd, jumping around in deranged unison, glimpsed White’s signature scowl turned upside down.
"Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" (The White Stripes)
"Hotel Yorba" (The White Stripes)
"Weep Themselves to Sleep"
"I Guess I Should Go to Sleep"
"Top Yourself" (The Raconteurs)
"Blue Blood Blues" (The Dead Weather)
"We’re Going to be Friends" (The White Stripes)
"Two Against One" (Rome)
"The Hardest Button to Button" (The White Stripes)
"Freedom at 21"
"Take Me with You When You Go"
"Carolina Drama" (The Raconteurs)
"Ball and Biscuit" (The White Stripes)
"Black Math" (The White Stripes)
"I Cut Like a Buffalo" (The Dead Weather)
"Catch Hell Blues" (The White Stripes)
Seven Nation Army" (The White Stripes)