Jack White reinvigorates rock at Las Vegas show

Dressed in black and blue, he came to bruise.

Swinging guitars in place of fists, Jack White braced himself for a throwdown, chin up, knuckles down on the fretboard.

In musical terms, White is the bottle-tossing instigator in the bar fight between the old-fashioned and the newfangled.

As a rock ’n’ roller, he takes his cues from those wizened, tried-and-true, sweat-and-blood sounds that had to walk to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways, as opposed to the comforts of riding the bus, like you just know those EDM softies did.

So, just two numbers into his sold-out show at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Thursday — following a righteously raucous, tone-setting take on the MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams” — White was comparing himself to Sisyphus in song, braying and whelping like a shelter hound when the lights go off.

His task, as spelled out in “Over and Over and Over”: to put his “shoulder on the boulder” of modern distractions for an evening, to tame — or at least redirect — the winds of change for an hour or two.

This meant that all cellphones had to be locked away before the show and that the sounds emanating from this bunch had a distinctly corporeal, flesh-and-bone feel.

White has long described himself as a man out of time, someone who feels as if he were born a generation or two too late.

He’s not a technophobe or a Luddite, but he is a preservationist of sorts, an apostle of the analog who prefers recording to eight-track tape and the crackling warmth of vinyl albums over Pro Tools and the convenience and precision of digital files. White owns a record pressing plant in his native Detroit, sits on the board of the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Foundation, and one gets the sense that he’d rather lick ice cream from a sidewalk than log onto iTunes.

It’s not that White is a stick in the mud when it comes to anything associated with this millennium; it’s just that he favors the organic over the synthetic, man over machine. This translates palpably to the stage: White treats his songs like living, breathing things and, as such, they often take new forms live.

Humans aren’t always predictable, and neither are the ways that White’s songbook comes to life in concert.

On Thursday, little was played exactly as it was originally recorded.

During the band’s take on The White Stripes’ “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” which features one of White’s meatiest guitar riffs, he took a seat at the piano and played said riff on the keys, transforming the song into something different entirely.

Another Stripes tune, “Hotel Yorba,” was enhanced with a more rollicking country-western swing, as opener William Tyler joined the band on electric guitar while White strummed an acoustic.

Elsewhere, the band expanded upon the concussive core of songs such as “Corporation” and “Why Walk a Dog?” both off White’s latest record, “Boarding House Reach.” The former mushroomed into one of the densest jams of the evening, with White howling about the Illuminati, Donald Trump and the Kardashians while clawing at this guitar as if trying to excavate hidden truths from its strings. The latter got irradiated by a nuclear lead from White that blanketed the room in a fallout of distortion.

Some songs bludgeoned (a bullying take on the Stripes’ “Icky Thump”), others bounced (an ecstatically received cover of The Raconteurs’ “Steady, As She Goes”), with White and company compressing the blues, punk, metal, country, garage rock — even a taste of ’80s New Wave via the synth bleeps of “Respect Commander” — into an indivisible whole.

Through it all, the sounds coming from the stage had a vintage pulse, as did the antiquated debate that White addressed at show’s conclusion.

“Do you think rock and roll is dead?” he asked after a set-ending “Seven Nation Army.”

The crowd’s lusty cheers suggested otherwise, but in terms of contemporary mainstream popularity, you could certainly answer in the affirmative.

So, is White living in the past?

Maybe.

But then again, what better way to keep the past living?

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing