Friday, September 18, 2009

The Dead Weather - Roseland Theater - August 23rd, 2009

The Dead Weather is Jack White’s much-hyped new band. They’re fronted by The Kill’s Alison Mosshart on vocals, with The Queens of the Stone Age Dean Fertita on guitar, The Raconteur’s Jack Lawrence on bass and White on drums just so that you’ll know he can rock those as well as he rocks a six-string. They’ve got all of the promise that a supergroup typically carries. But with White masterminding it they’ve avoided some of the problems that often weigh supergroups down with this basic premise: If Jack White’s involved in it, it’s got to be good. And it is. Good. But it’s not great and here’s why. Songs. You’ve got to have good songs. No matter how great each person is in their respective roles the whole has got to be greater than the sum of its parts. And let me tell you, each person is great in their role. White’s drumming is so good you actually want to watch him the whole time. But you don’t because Mosshart commands the stage with such authority, such intense sexuality, you cannot take your eyes off of her. She is Chrissie Hynde, Deborah Harry, and Shirley Manson all rolled up into one tight, rocking sexy singer. She clearly knows that she’s got to have tons of attitude and swagger to pull off the impossible: taking the spotlight from Jack White. But she does. She actually pulls it off. And Fertita is faced with an even more daunting task: playing guitar in a band where the world’s best guitarist is sitting right behind you. Surprisingly, he almost pulls it off by smartly playing in a style nothing like White’s. Difficult to categorize but in the vein of Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, he’s constantly doing things with the guitar that seem other-worldly, where you’re scratching your head “What the? Wow! Awesome!” The band easily whipped the sold-out crowd into a frenzy and when they left before the encore not a person moved. Everyone kept screaming for more. Which surprised me. Because as good as they were, there isn’t a single tune that I could hum for you right now. Not one song that I wish they would play for me again. So I feel like what the audience was really screaming for was for them to finally play a really good, memorable song. It’s strange. The Emperor looks good naked. But still, he should put some clothes on.

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