The Gig: The Dead Weather
Where: Sound Academy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 15 July 2010
In One Word: Absorbing
The Dead Weather are legit. The real deal. They are a rock supergroup who merit their place on the front cover of our music magazines and on the walls of teenagers’ bedrooms.
Over the last decade in music, things rather lost their way. It was all very exciting to begin with at the turn of the millennium. We had the massive breakthrough of indie bands like The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol, while in terms of stadium rock the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters were still good. And there was Radiohead, of course… old faithful Radiohead. But things got a bit damp in the latter half of the noughties, after a saturation of screamo, emo, ‘hardcore’ and new wave bands. It all just got a bit tired and limp. As we entered a new decade in 2010, a change was needed. Something new, but with the power of the old. Something with soul, energy. Something to really get excited about. And then… BAM! It happened. The Dead Weather released their swaggering sophomore record, forecasting a change in the musical waters. A revival seemed imminent, and tonight at the Sound Academy I experienced this new chapter in rock n’ roll as the Dead Weather gave a storming performance befitting a band leading a new high.
The Dead Weather played with aplomb, delivering their blend of sexy garage and blues rock to a hot, sweaty and thoroughly receptive Toronto crowd. The most striking thing for me was the chemistry of the band, and it’s that same chemistry that can be heard on the Dead Weather’s albums that translates to the stage with even greater effect. While obviously rehearsed and well practiced, they just sounded and performed so natural and freely as a group.
Jack White is the most famous name of the Nashville, Tennesse based The Dead Weather but for the most part he took a back seat to proceedings, being the main drummer of the group. Up front it was the lead singer Alison Mosshart who was in the limelight – no, make that blue light- often bending and contorting her frame as she howled out vocals in a tone which is not dissimilar to that of White. Flanking Mosshart on either side of the bespectacled bassist Jack Lawrence and Dean Fertita on keys and guitar. (Interestingly, it’s just a month since we last saw Fertita in town, when he played with Eagles of Death Metal.)
Playing through material from their two albums to date, the set was without lull and had the majority of the crowd trapped in a gaze for the duration of the show. “Hustle and Cuss”, the Dylan cover “New Pony” and Mosshart’s fall-to-the-floor performance for “Gasoline”, were some of the biggest peaks of the set, but the real magic came towards the end of night. Before the encore, The Dead Weather played “Will There Ever Be Enough Water?” – the sultry keys from Fertita going up against some heavier grooves, with Jack Lawrence on drums as White moved up to with Mosshart to stand silhouetted against the blue lights as they shared the mic. Then BAM!, Jack White laid down one of his signature screeching-guitar solos: A moment to be absorbed, as White played the blues with that same tone and feeling that made The White Stripes so essential.
The Dead Weather played a four song encore, with the pick of the bunch being “I Can’t Hear You”. With all four members of The Dead Weather standing, they played over a drum-machine loop in what was a hypnotic moment. There were more squeals from Jack White’s guitar, while the smoke machine worked in overtime as the band built to a crescendo, finishing the song with an explosive 20 second outro. The night ended with “Treat Me Like Your Mother”, from Horehound, a song which features my favourite Dead Weather lyrics, the most memorable of all being: You blink when you breathe and you breathe when you lie.
Jack White of The Dead Weather can now be revered for having being part of two of the most influential bands of recent times. Of all the bands I mentioned above, The White Stripes were the most exciting and essential of all to emerge at the start of 2000. And now in 2010 he’s gone and done it again: The Dead Weather are at the edge of what is not just a breathe of fresh air to music, but a gale of wind that’s blown away so many of the redundant bands that we’ve had to endure in recent years. Déjà vu Jack? If you read this, give yourself a pat on the back.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice
Pictures of The Dead Weather at Sound Academy: