Jack White: The Same Boy You’ve Always Known?

I found myself missing the days when Jack White welcomed onstage accidents and fixed problems himself. Broken strings and extra guitar picks placed slightly out of reach were just parts of the struggle that he always insisted performances should have been. However, roadies quickly mobilized towards mics knocked out of place and tangled cords and knew exactly when to switch guitars for him. (How do they know when to do that if he plays without set lists anyway?)

These issues were minor though. No one would have known, having simply seen Jack trot and dash around the stage, that he had sprained his left ankle sometime before the show – except that a crew member had announced the injury prior to the set, and Jack performed the entire encore in bare feet, pausing once in a while to adjust the wrappings around his appendage.

I must also applaud this crew member for having successfully requested that everyone left their phones in their pockets and bags. To paraphrase: “We get that you want to show your friends and families you were here, but we have our own photographers, so download and share our photos. Take credit for them if want! Just put your phones away!” From where I stood (a couple of rows short of front-and-centre), I saw only one phone meekly poke through the sweaty swarm of bodies for a quick snap near the end of the night.

Although the spark of spontaneity felt absent (or greatly diminished even compared to some of his recent shows), and Jack White did not seem like his usual engaging self, the effort he put into his performance was more than anyone with a nagging injury should have been able to muster. And perhaps it’s inevitable for one to grow out of old habits, but at least the same boy we’ve always known has turned out more than fine.

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu