When Jack White leads the exhausted, muddy masses in an adrenaline-fueled scream-along of the White Stripes‘ “Seven Nation Army,” there’s no doubting his power as rock’s leading man. Getting him to do it, however, takes a while.
To close out Lollapalooza‘s final night, the festival gave White the longest time slot, of nearly two hours. It makes sense: The Sunday night headliner is often met with weak competition from the other stages and is often seen as the headliner of headliners. Additionally, for what White does – two backing bands, one female and one male – a little extra time helps.
Considering just how many bands White has been in over the last several years (and the fact that he only has one solo album, Blunderbuss, to his name), one might have expected his set to be full of variety. Such is not the case. After he was finished playing almost the entirety of his country-tinged Blunderbuss, he started heavy into his White Stripes material and one Raconteurs song (“Steady As She Goes”).
However, shortly after White started off with “Sixteen Saltines” set against the setting sun, the Stripes’ “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” got an early start with White at his piano. The crowd lost it, though it would be a little while longer until White left his own world to address them. “I called three weeks in advance,” White joked of the weather, which took a turn for the worse on Saturday.
As White moved through Blunderbluss and seamlessly transitioned from his male backing band to his female one, he started to get his groove. Backing vocalist Ruby Amanfu marked the shift, joining an acoustic-clad White on his first solo single, “Love Interruption.” Fans were singing it right back to White, which was not the case with his other new tracks.
Seeing White live, it becomes even more apparent that he’s firmly entrenched in his Nashville ways these days. At times, what he presents felt like more a vintage hoedown than a full-throttle rock show. “Y’all fancy a country song,” White asked introducing the Stripes’ “Hotel Yorba.” Isn’t that what the crowd had been hearing – country songs?
Yet White can walk the line like few can, ducking back firmly into rock territory as the set moved forward and the White Stripes songs came with more frequency. From “Ball and a Biscuit” to his closing song of “Seven Nation Army,” White showed at Lollapalooza than he can go country and still be a rockstar.