The Dead Weather at First Avenue, 07/28/2010
July 28, 2010
The Dead Weather will always be viewed as Jack White and Alison Mosshart's sultry little side-project, and for good reason, since those two are clearly the most recognizable, magnetic personalities in the band. But it's the lesser known members of the group, guitarist/keyboardist Dean Fertita and bassist Jack Lawrence, who end up doing most of the hard labor when the band plays live; and it was their inventive noisemaking and steady rhythms that drove the majority of the Dead Weather's songs during their very sold-out, 90-minute performance at First Avenue on Wednesday night.
The band has grown tighter and more adaptable to each others strengths since their last show at the Ave (exactly one year and a day before this one), which allows them the freedom to experiment within the song's arrangements, while also giving their music an added vehemence and innovative, unhinged quality. It's a combustible combination that worked really well throughout their explosive set.
Striding confidently onstage in their customary all-black attire, the band wasted little time shifting into high gear, opening with the potent swagger of "The Difference Between Us," which found Mosshart prowling the stage and striding atop the amps commandingly. She clearly thrives in front of a crowd, and her electric temperament can own any room and captivate any audience. Wednesday was no exception, as Mosshart completely took over on the wildly experimental piece "I'm Mad," and by the end of the song there was no doubt, we all believed her. If there were any skeptics in the crowd, they must have been converted by the sheer intensity of "60 Feet Tall," which the band absolutely destroyed. White, who was content to witness most of the mayhem from behind his drum kit for most of the show, took over lead vocals on a stirring cover of the Them classic "You Just Can't Win," which found him center stage for half of the song before retreating back behind the kit to finish out the track, after which he exclaimed "Ain't that right Minneapolis," a rare moment of stage banter for him during the focused set.
The only hiccup in what was otherwise a fluid, impassioned performance was a truncated version of "I Cut Like A Buffalo" which White cut off for some reason just before the vocals kicked in. I love hearing this song live, and was initially saddened that they cut it short, but thankfully they revisited the tempestuous track during their encore. So, after "Buffalo" was axed, the band seemed a bit off for the next few numbers, which unfortunately consisted of a pretty by-the-numbers rendition of "Die By The Drop," one of my favorite songs from Sea Of Cowards. But the show jolted back to life with a fiery version of "Bone House" which picked the momentum back up in a major way, and that dynamic tension continued throughout the rest of the show. The last two songs of the main set, a cover of Bob Dylan's "New Pony" and "Will There Be Enough Water" really found the band hitting their stride, with White delivering a stunning, superlative guitar solo during "Water" that was worth the price of admission alone. It makes you wish he'd pick up a guitar more during their shows, but alas he seems pretty happy behind the drum kit.
The encore only built on the powerful energy created by the last two songs, with the swampy turbulence of "Hang You From The Heavens" kicking it off. They revisited "Buffalo" next, and I don't know what was missing in their initial run through of the song, but whatever it was clearly was there during this stomping, untamed version. It was brilliant, and more than made up for their aborted attempt earlier. "Jawbreaker" was absolutely owned by Mosshart, who bounded around the stage seductively, delivering her provocative vocals as a half come on, half dare. After a performance such as this, the only proper way to close the show was with "Treat Me Like Your Mother," which the band absolutely slayed. It featured a savage, extended coda that found the group wildly exploring the depths of their instruments, losing themselves in the moment. It was an incendiary way to end the show, and after a group bow to an adoring, overflow audience, the Dead Weather were off. I've never been disappointed by any performance Jack White has put on in the Twin Cities, and I clearly wasn't on this evening. He, and the rest of the band, delivered. What White's next project will be is anyone's guess, I just hope he gets back to playing more guitar sometime soon.
Critic's Bias: I've had a massive crush on Alison Mosshart for years, and I have now said so in print.
The Crowd: A lot of drunken testosterone, unfortunately.
Overheard In The Crowd: "So, which one is Jack White?"
Random Notebook Dump: The band had a giant eyeball on a backdrop behind the stage, very reminiscent of the one the Yeah Yeah Yeah's used for their set up at their last First Ave show.
The Difference Between Us
60 Feet Tall
You Just Can't Win (Them cover)
So Far From Your Weapon
I Cut Like A Buffalo (cut short)
Die By The Drop
Blue Blood Blues
Hustle And Cuss
New Pony (Dylan cover)
Will There Be Enough Water
Hang You From The Heavens
I Cut Like A Buffalo
Treat Me Like Your Mother