Thursday, January 3, 2013

Jack White Interview and Hope

While perusing the interwebs we came across this GQ article/interview with RtBE favorite Jack White. I understand peoples preoccupation with everyone's personal life, the world is just one big high school, I just can't get behind it. Not to focus more on an artists music in these things just seems criminal to me. 
Thankfully though this piece does bring up something I have been wondering about since we were at the show.  Jack White's cut short Radio City performance. Here is the part in question:
Which brings me neatly, if a little uncomfortably, to the whole Radio City thing. I’d gone to the second night, too, the Sunday, and the difference between the two could not have been more pronounced. With The Peacocks this time, White had put on a show that crackled with energy, urgency and yes — sexual chemistry — and the crowd, perhaps cautioned by the events of the evening before, had given it all they had. (The press had indeed reported that an “angry crowd” had formed after White “abruptly” ended the Saturday show, but the news story was overshadowed by Canadian pop-moppet Justin Bieber, who threw up on stage in Arizona on the same night.)
They were certainly contrasting experiences, I say. “Ha!” laughs White. “Yeah, it was two different shows.” And why the difference? “I think the first night, the mob had decided they’re going to go watch Gone with the Wind,” he says. “In these times, it feels like a lot of people think a rock’n’roll show is the same as going to the movies, that a ticket is an emblem of entitlement. Whether they know it or not, the crowd’s in control of my show, not me. If I was playing in an old folks’ home, and I played a couple of songs from the Forties and everyone clapped, and then I put on an electric guitar and played a Jimi Hendrix song and everyone started covering their ears, now I know the next song I do should not be electric and loud. I saw that first night, just hundreds of people straight-up not clapping. So I have no idea what to pick for the next song. I have no duty to explain to them how this all works. And also I have a duty to provoke.” Curiously, the first night, as the ship was going down, White talked a lot, often admonishing the crowd with a demonic smile (“Quiet down, I’m trying to hear myself think!”).
The second night, he spoke hardly at all and didn’t smile once. “I’m glad you caught that,” he says. “I was trying to prove a point to them. People might not have understood what I was saying to them at the mic. They want to think it was anger or diva-like behaviour. It was exactly the opposite. They were the ones telling me what to do. Smiling is the exact opposite of what they want at that moment. It’s confusing and that’s exactly where I want to be. You can’t give them an easy Democrat or Republican version of everything. Life isn’t like that. Love isn’t like that. Beauty isn’t like that. I’m going to grab this Coca-Cola.”
I am not sure what he was talking about, the section I was in was going ballistic, granted I doubt he could see us from the stage as we were on the floor but way back.  I was thinking perhaps the venue was just a horrible mismatch with White's style, he needs a barroom as a bluesman, but if he is judging the crowd's reaction by the people he can see, not the ones he hears I am lost.  

His statement of "And also I have to provoke" is much more telling in my eyes.  He is an artist, and whether he likes it or not, moves like these put him in a Diva class.  He has every right to play (incredibly well) for under an hour and walk out, but fans pay hard earned money, you gotta deal with the backlash, quoting Bobby Brown isn't always a satisfying answer.  I was at both shows and loved what I heard from both, just wish I heard more the first night.

On the flipside, there is hope!  Recent news states that RtBE's pick for album of the year, Jack White's Blunderbuss was the highest (legally) selling vinyl record of the year. Ahh, it feels good when quality gets rewarded.  Jack can continue to do what he wants live, keeping things exciting for him as long as he continues to kill it some nights and put out such great music, I can overlook some of his "artist" traits.       

Here is some Jackie Boy live with the Peacocks at Fuji Rock Fest 2012, "Missing Pieces"

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