Jack White is known for making a righteous noise when accompanied by just one other player in his famed (but now retired) duo the White Stripes. So imagine the ruckus he can create when accompanied by two full bands. This is how White chose to preview material from his forthcoming debut solo album, “Blunderbuss” (due out April 23 on Third Man Records/Columbia) at his Third Man Records showcase at Austin’s SXSW Music Festival Friday night.
Fans waited in line for hours to check out White’s latest project, and many who didn’t make it into the filled-to-capacity venue lingered outside to listen in. What could have been White simply showcasing his new songs turned into a two-part, two-hour party featuring several White Stripes classics as well as tunes from his other projects the Raconteurs and his cinematic Danger Mouse/Daneile Luppi collaboration, Rome.
During part one, White was accompanied by an all-female, five-piece band and back-up singer Ruby Amanfu. Dressed demurely in baby blue dresses, they rocked as hard as the man himself, even on their atypical instruments including a violin, double bass and pedal-steel guitar. They played the album’s first single, “Love Interruption,” with the provocative lyrics, “I want love to roll me over slowly, stick a knife inside me and twist it all around,” and other new tunes that straddled the line between garage rock and country.
The sizable band also filled out White Stripes classics including “Hotel Yorba,” which thrilled the crowd but somehow lacked the magic and spontaneity that White created together with White Stripes bandmate Meg. After a 45-minute set that included much of his new album, White quipped that they were taking a break and they’d be performing in the lounge all night. He returned a few minutes later with an all-male backing band who delivered several more White Stripes tunes including “Doorbell” and “The Hardest Button to Button” as well as the Raconteurs “Steady As She Goes” and the Rome song “Two Against One.”
Rumors swirled all evening that special guests including Beck and Norah Jones would join him on stage. Although Jones was spotted in the audience and actor Bill Murray ended up dancing on the bar by night’s end, White kept the spotlight all to himself, proving yet again that he’s an able, commanding helmsman no matter what ship he’s steering.