Jack White at the O2, Dublin, Wednesday 31st of October 2012

Love it or loathe it, there is usually something dramatic about Halloween. And entering the O2 this night, something of that nature could be felt in the air. People filed in quietly on the cold, dry night; the bright moon piercing the blackness of the clear sky. A handful wore fancy dress to serve the day that’s in it. Once Jack White, a man known for his theatrics, took to the stage, we knew there was no drama to be seen tonight.

The amps were set to eleven, guitars were set to heavy, heart rates were set well above one hundred and we were off with a powerful version of Sixteen Saltines. From here, it rarely stopped. White’s strings would hardly stop vibrating after the end of one song, before being worked again with the start of the next. His conversation is kept to a minimum with “Hi. It’s been a while since I’ve been here and it’s good to be back. Not kidding, I would have got here sooner but I had to help some kids make a bonfire down the street” the longest break White takes between songs during the main part of the set.

The volume never lets up but everything produced by seven-piece band on stage is not as heavy as the opener. There is a country/bluegrass set in the middle with a fiddle and honky-tonk keys adding new dimensions to the likes of Missing Pieces and Top Yourself, originally by White’s side project The Raconteurs. The crowd sing along and dance to the songs they know – not many seem to know much if the new album – and listen appreciatively to song they don’t.

He always has a classic around the corner though, given his setlist incorporates all parts of his back catalogue. The White Stripes’ Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground is second out of the blocks – and sounds rather different with seven instruments rather than two – while Hotel Yorba forms a rollicking part of the country-tinged set.

Hypocritical Kiss comes to blow away the country cobwebs, bringing the heavy guitar back to the fore where it remains through the rest of the main set that includes such further classics as Hardest Button to Button and an anything but steady version of Steady as She Goes. The crowd don’t care though as they sing and dance unconstrained.

The encore, when it came, was no let-down from the main show. A fantastic stripped-back version of We Are Going to be Friends and a shortened Ball and Biscuit build the tension in the crowd there’s even some preparatory moshing during the latter. They know what is coming and they’ve been chanting the notes all night and when it comes Seven Nation Army doesn’t disappoint. Every word is shouted back and The O2, as one, is bouncing.

On a magical night, it would be wrong to say Jack White enchanted the crowd. What he did was much more powerful and he sends out an army of thousands, ears ringing, ready to do his bidding into the night. Now what was that he said about the Queen of England?

Sixteen Saltines
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (The White Stripes)
Missing Pieces
Love Interruption
Cannon >
John the Revelator
Top Yourself (The Raconteurs)
Hotel Yorba (The White Stripes)
You know that I know
Hypocritical Kiss
Weep Themselves to Sleep
Blue Blood Blues (The Dead Weather)
I Guess I Should Go to Sleep
Trash Tongue Talker
Steady, as She Goes (The Raconteurs)
The Hardest Button to Button (The White Stripes)

Freedom at 21
Carolina Drama (The Raconteurs)
We’re Going to Be Friends (The White Stripes)
Take Me With You When You Go
Ball and Biscuit (The White Stripes)
Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes)

Jack White Photo Gallery

Photos: Owen Humphreys