Jack White is all about authenticity. Forget talking about his tour rules, his family, his fights with other musicians, all the celebrity crap that the modern media shoves forward instead of engaged, genuine insight about the man’s art. Think about his music. Think about the songs and their sources. His heart is in 1930s retro, which includes the showmanship and attention to detail and his record label. Jack asks that fans not let their cellphone use obscure the SHOW happening right in front of their eyes. His opening tour spokesperson stepped on stage just before each show and addressed the crowd. He said our parents, and especially our grandparents, went to live shows to enjoy the spectacle unfolding in front of them.
Jack White is a time machine back to when the show was everything. Back to when going to a live show had both huge theatrical elements as well as deeply spiritual elements, for the fans who bought a ticket to see a show. Everything flowed from the live performance. I remember those days. I’m that old. In that way, in my opinion, Jack White is very like William Shakespeare at his Globe, as far fetched as that might sound. It’s all about showmanship and giving people something entertaining. High-flying words and buckets of blood, if need be. There are layers of meaning in White’s songs, song choices, lyrics, and the mighty sources from which they flow, far deeper and more emotional and real than digital technology can capture on a six-inch screen. It’s about the gritty live experience as a groundling, art and intellectual impact in one experience, which takes days and even weeks to access through memory and contemplation.
I attended both Seattle shows this week. These photos were taken by Jack White’s tour photographer, David James Swanson, which are all available on Jack White’s website. For free. I left my camera home so I could get lost in the music. One show I was at the stage, the other in a seat at the back of the room. Third Man Records has reminded everyone that their turntables aren’t dead, which should also remind everyone that the authenticity of the 1920s and 30s can still be conjured back into our lives, the best of the early Twentieth Century, if we want it. Music is life.