Live: Rad New Jack White Dalliance the Dead Weather


The Dead Weather
Bowery Ballroom
Tuesday, April 14

I am pleased to report that Jack White can actually play the drums. Nothing terribly flashy about his style — a lot of splashy ride-cymbal action, alongside the occasional muscular but economic fill — but he doesn’t look or sound ridiculous back there. (He’s no Meg, but who is, after all?) The Dead Weather, as you may have heard, is his third and latest sleazy-garage-rock franchise, his CSI: New York, if you will. This was their full-show debut. They wore matching black leather jackets for the occasion.

Alison Mosshart — she of the Kills, the face-obscuring haircut, and the elaborately badass cigarette-smoking technique — is our de facto frontman, and like Woody Allen’s lead actors, she has perhaps subconsciously adopted some of Jack’s yelp-to-snarl mannerisms in delivering such macho bon mots as “You’re so cold and dangerous/But I can’t leave you be/You got the kind of loving/I need constantly” or “I put your heart/In a vault/That’s how I get/The things I want” or “I’m lookin’ for a place to go/When the sun goes down/And stays down.” (Jack occasionally takes lead as he bops along, and offers the rather astute “You know I look like a woman/But I cut like a buffalo.”) The tunes themselves, each establishing a surly organ/guitar/bass riff and sticking stubbornly to it, are familiar and inviting things: This may be his third-most-prominent enterprise, but it’s a Jack White enterprise all the same; the highlight comes when he steps out from the drums, picks up a guitar (the sleepy crowd temporarily roused), and leads a slow, brooding, seafaring number, moaning “Will there be enough water/When my ship comes in,” sharing a mic with Mosshart, their faces very very close together, as though attempting to drink beer out of each others’ mouths. He fires off a few histrionic solos too, which is great on the one hand, but slightly undermining on the other: Here’s Something I’m Way Better at Than the Drums.

Still, the tremendously lurid cover of Dylan’s “New Pony” is a fine way to finish things off this brisk affair — barely more than an hour. Like a CSI: New York episode, which is a fine show actually, if there ain’t nothin’ else on.

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