Sunday, June 14, 2009
The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
Having already booked 3 Dead Weather shows for July I was happy to receive an email from silverjetz notifying me there was a surprise show at the 'Shoe. And it fell on a night off.
'Course they're not making it easy on us. I'm in line outside the Horseshoe at 8:00 am. Except for the guy sleeping on the bench, and I think he's not here for the show, I'm alone. Hard to gauge the hype around this band. These small-venue warmup shows are being announced a day in advance, but they are no great secret if you turn on an electric appliance with a receiver or log onto the web. Driving into downtown Toronto, along Richmond St, I'm horrified to see thousands of kids in queue along the curbs. Good news is they are there for the Much Music Video Awards and the Jonas Brothers. A couple blocks away there is no one waiting on Jack White.
Proof, if you needed it, that this world is fucked up beyond comprehension.
The line starts to fill in but by 1 pm, when the wristbands are handed out, it still looks like everyone who showed up is going to get in. The excruciating part in lining up with those wristbands, waiting for the lottery that determines who gets in first, and hoping the confusion that ensues doesn't affect you're getting in. I've got wristband #1. The only thing that guarantees is I'm unlikely to be first in. The random lottery started at #230 up to the capacity of 460. Ironically, though these people got to pay ahead of us the venue was not open, only the bar. Many had to back out of the club and wait for actual doors...thereby rejoining the line up outside. When our number was called we waltzed in at the exact moment they opened access to the venue and I found myself where I'd hoped to end up...20 feet from the right stacks.
Just prior to joining that line I was out back watching the tour buses with a handful of fans. Didn't seem like nothing was happening so I made my way through the alley towards the front when I was cut-off by a white panel van. Out piles Allison, followed by Little Jack and then the frizzy-headed Jack White stumbles out. He makes a slight detour to shake hands, chat inanities and take a picture with a cutie who'd been waiting about. It took 20 seconds but he was smiling and friendly.
LittleWhiteGhost from the fansite "The Little Room" got a good 15 seconds of that sunshine.
Opener tonight is Hollorado, hand-picked from myspace auditions by Jack his'elf. They did well. High energy. A few of the songs were very promising.
Back behind the drums, for the first time since his stint in Goober and the Peas, is Jack White. Weird don't begin to describe that. He's brought along a couple friends from his Raconteur days; Jack Lawrence on bass and Dean Fertita, tour keyboardist, is taking the lead guitar role. Manning the mic, she-devil from The Kills, the sultry and slightly bitchy, Alison Mosshart.
I haven't listened to a single tune, figuring I'd get a handful of opportunities to check out Jack's new project live. They are not nearly as instantly accessible as The Raconteurs. The whole sonic feel is one of a muddy-slightly-distorted booze joint on the banks of the lower Mississippi. It's not an accident. The mics and pickups are set to reverb. The volume is set to 11. It made for a dicey night inside the 'Shoe as we were blasted with feedback about 4 times through the evening. Three times I'm sure it wasn't planned. Not so sure about what Dean was doing with the keyboard at one point.
It'll take a while to find the comfort zone with this band. Perhaps after I've had time to digest the record. Some members of tonights audience didn't seem to want to wait that long as there was a steady stream of couples leaving the pit at about the half-hour mark muttering; "I liked the old Jack better." I figure if somebody doesn't walk out of your show you aren't challenging the audience enough.
On first look it appears Jack is the star.
Little Jack, that is.
He's relentless as the rain, playing the bass like it was a lead instrument.
The OTHER Jack's drumming is concussive and less than intricate though by shows end he was playing some mighty fine runs.
Dean's guitar work was excellent but the keyboard seemed like an annoyance most times he went to it.
As for Alison, well, she's got something going on. At times it's hypnotic and totally in synch with the show. At other times it seems like petulant posing. While her attempted sexual liason with the mic stand on the opening number was tantalizing in a 'suicide girls' kinda way, her chain-smoking blues persona seemed less a sign of independence from the cultural norms and more a case of self-centered entitlement.
Here's the set list and some mp3 samples.
The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
Track 01 60 ft Tall
Track 02 Treat Me Like Your Mother
Track03 Bone House
Track04 You Just Can't Win (Van Morrison cover)
Track 05 So Far From Your Weapon
Track 06 Child of a Few Hours
Track 07 Rocking Horse
Track 08 I Cut Like A Buffalo
Track 09 No Hassle Night
Track 10 Will There Be Enough Water?
Track 11 encore--audience
Track 12 Forever My Queen (The Pentagram cover)
Track 13 Hang You From The Heavens
Track 14 New Pony
Here's a link to another blog with a review of Horehound.
Horehound Review from The Forty-Nine Percenter