Concert Reviews

Jack White Brings Blistering Rock to Irving

White Stripes and Raconteurs' frontman Jack White rocked Irving on Monday night.
White Stripes and Raconteurs' frontman Jack White rocked Irving on Monday night. David James Swanson
It took four songs before Jack White got the reaction he sought.

After playing the first three songs off his fourth studio album, Fear of the Dawn, in sequence to kick off his Monday night concert at the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory — “Taking Me Back,” the title track and “The White Raven,” a stretch during which White exhorted the near-capacity crowd to clap along — he struck the opening chords of “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” and the venue erupted.

The gritty squall of a classic White Stripes cut was followed in close succession by two more Stripes sides (“I Think I Smell a Rat” and the downright jaunty “Apple Blossom”), and the evening kicked into a higher gear and mostly stayed there.

White’s first North Texas appearance in four years — dubbed the “Supply Chain Issues” tour, a wry joke that was probably a bit funnier before gas prices shot above $5 — was roughly 100 minutes of scorching, searching rock and roll, two dozen kinetic tracks performed by a formidable quartet of musicians, situated atop a stage on the Pavilion’s stage.

Monday’s set served as the start of the second leg of his U.S. tour, which will keep the 46-year-old White on the road through mid-June before he decamps for European tour dates.

Backed by drummer Daru Jones, bassist Dominic John Davis and keyboardist Quincy McCrary, the blue-haired White, who switched between a variety of electric guitars and the piano throughout the evening, followed his muse wherever it led, often signaling changes to the players and launching off into the next song, sweating and laser-focused.

The setlist ranged across the Grammy-winning White’s prodigious output — it’s sometimes easy to forget, until you’re confronted with the breadth of his catalog, that he’s deep into a 20-year career — pulling from Dawn, but taking care to touch upon the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather (that band’s blistering “I Cut Like a Buffalo” nearly leveled the place Monday).
click to enlarge Jack White's May 23 show at Irving's Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory was simply formidable. - DAVID JAMES SWANSON
Jack White's May 23 show at Irving's Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory was simply formidable.
David James Swanson

Tuesday was also, as the ticket told you in large print, a phone-free show, meaning attendees were required to place their devices inside magnetically-sealed Yondr pouches upon entering the venue. (It was nothing if not highly amusing to sit inside the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory and watch interstitial ads for the venue’s free WiFi, Verizon’s 5G service or the concession stand’s cashless payment options as your phone sat useless in a gray pouch in your lap.)

It’s been a long while since I’ve attended any live event where my field of vision wasn’t punctuated at regular intervals by glowing screens — did the absence of any phones make the show more engaging? It’s hard to say — the audience cut across all age and demographic lines, the sight of young families making a night of Jack White was a bit odd and the audience seemed no more or less engaged than might have been otherwise.

That might be because the skill of the players would have been awe-inspiring no matter whether you were watching them through your phone or not — Jones, with his uniquely arranged drum kit and delicate touch, and McCrary, with his angelic voice and dazzling virtuosity, were a phenomenal counterpoint to White, whose slashing, bending, blistering style was on full display.

He wrung keening, snarling notes from the neck of his blue-accented guitars, playing high and low, the intensity of focus always evident in the black and white close-ups populating the screens on either side and behind the musicians.

The final five-song run — and, arguably, even the six-song encore — generated a momentum bordering on bliss: “I Cut Like a Buffalo” stomping into a truly incredible cover of “Texas Flood,” which spilled into Lazaretto’s “That Black Bat Licorice,” before concluding with another pair from Dawn, “Hi-De-Ho” and “What’s the Trick?”

It was a masterpiece of pacing and a string of material that had the crowd, arms outstretched and howling its approval, validating White’s mid-set observation: “I always felt good about Dallas, every time I come here.”
click to enlarge Jack White seems to be gong through his "Blue Period." - DAVID JAMES SWANSON
Jack White seems to be gong through his "Blue Period."
David James Swanson
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Preston Jones is a Dallas-based writer who spent a decade as the pop music critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors honored his work three times, including a 2017 first place award for comment and criticism (Class AAAA). His writing has also appeared in the New York Observer, The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, Central Track, Oklahoma Today and Slant Magazine.
Contact: Preston Jones