Live Review: The Dead Weather, HMV Picturehouse 22/10/09

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Johnny Brick gives the new ‘supergroup’ four stars.

Strobing is best experienced outdoors, so why the lighting crew for this impressive show didn’t baulk at the prospect of seventy-five minutes of pulses of light hitting their and the audience’s poor pupils incessantly while most of the crowd were trying to make out the floppy hair of America’s Great Modern Rock’n’Roller is a question one was close to yelling. Nonetheless, another Jack White-fronted (or –backed) group plugged their album full of dirty blues-rock to a crowd who would have gone into a Bacchic frenzy if White so much as slept onstage, such was their adulation for him and his band. The band consists of the long-haired bassist out of The Raconteurs, who makes a convincing drummer on one number; the keyboardist out of Queens of the Stone Age, who anchors the group with terrific playing; Kills lead vocalist Alison Mosshart, whose Courtney Love-meets-Peaches vocal stylings were married to banshee dancing and the whiff only obtained from being a female singer in a rock’n’roll band.

When he wasn’t bent over his kit thumping out a backbeat for the lively cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘New Pony’, or playing whilst singing something sexual and sensual on ‘Cut Like a Buffalo’, he was centre stage doing the White Stripes-sounding riffing and wailing that just didn’t exist before he introduced John Peel and the British public at large to his contemporary lo-hi-fi blues. Brilliantly sharing a microphone with Mosshart on one number and sliding up and down the fret of his guitar with insouciance, White was compelling even when he was walking to the stage, a true star and one who can do no wrong (bagpipes on the last White Stripes record not withstanding) in any of his three bands. I calculate this Dead Weather record, entitled Horehound, to be the tenth he has been heavily involved with this decade and, when the history of rock is written, White will be the noughties Elvis.

Setcloser and Big Hit ‘Treat Me like your Mother’ took on a life of its own, the audience yelling back the ‘Bleed When You Lie!’ refrain, entranced and empowered by their White-worship. Feel sympathy for the other bandmembers whose tight playing seemed just a sideshow for the main star tonight. Next time, less strobing, more imploding.

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