ON Nov 16, American musician Jack White screeched his lungs out for Malaysia, ending the 7th leg of his Supply Chain Issues Tour in Asia.
The concert tour was held in support of his fourth and fifth studio albums, Fear of the Dawn and Entering Heaven Alive respectively. The tour began on April 8, 2022, in his hometown Detroit, Michigan, where he proposed to his girlfriend, Olivia Jean, who also served as the opening act.
The concert was held in Zepp Kuala Lumpur in LaLaport Bukit Bintang City Centre. The event space spans 6,500 square metres and has a capacity of 2,414 people.
Going into the event, there were only standing tickets, but it wasn’t very crowded or packed. The whole place was blue-lit, just like White’s current blue hair phase.
Right before the event, we were told that we weren’t allowed to film or take any pictures of the concert, and they held that rule pretty strictly as I would find out later.
In an interview on CBC earlier this year, he explained that no phones allowed is a no-brainer for places like churches, orchestras, operas, and movie theatres, and that was how it’s “supposed to be”.
“It’s just a scenario of like being as reverential,” he said.
Initially, he was worried people weren’t going to accept it, but he said that “people who’ve actually experienced it” has “almost zero complaints”.
Sadly, I had to write down my notes for the performance, so I was on my phone almost the entire time, which definitely sucked out the joy of the performance.
In the entire two hours, the 47-year-old singer/guitarist rolled, scorched and hammered through more than 20 songs with hardly any breathers or missteps.
White tear opened with Taking Me Back, a meaty opening tune featuring searing licks from his sparkly blue Telecaster and a driving beat that immediately put the crowd under his spell.
Of course, the song would not be the same without his band, with Daru Jones on the drums, hitting every beat, Dominic Davis on the bass, and last but not least, Quincy McCrary on the synthesizer and backing vocals.
He followed the opening song with Fear of the Dawn, the title track of his fourth studio album, another fiery number that got everyone clapping on beat.
White screeched while using the modulator, making even his screams into something melodious.
When That Was Then (This Is Now) started playing, some of the fans started pulling out their phones to take the rare shot, but security was always afoot. Eagled-eye, they would cover the lenses of the phones that they were able to spot recording, in order to make sure no footage was taken of the singer.
White segued one song powerfully into the next and made it clear from the start that he was in control of the action. There was no time for chit-chat with the audience, no dead time between songs, no wardrobe changes and nothing cute during the evening. White was determined to keep the energy going.
He said that he used to be a busboy who served people, and it was the same now, and he was serving us.
“If you wanna be free, I’ll free you,” screamed White.
After the three new songs off the top, White’s took an unpredictable turn into The White Stripes’ When I Hear My Name and the crowd went right along with him as he crushed that sweet old song confidently.
Hand horns were all around the audience and the crowd started headbanging to his music. You could feel the vibrations on the floor. The music was loud, there were no hands with phones in the air, and it was like a pure punk concert straight from the 60s.
Some guy started swinging around his shirt in the air, moving to every beat, and someone tried to do a crowd surf during Lazaretto.
Then, we hear waves of feedback and guitar fuzz which led to operatic belting on a Middle Eastern scale. It was none other than his new experimental, genre-hopping song Hi-De-Ho which he made with rap legend Q-Tip.
From there, White proceeded to the piano to play the opening of You Don’t Understand Me by one of his bands, The Raconteurs, with the spotlight on him and McCrary playing the organ in the backing.
As the mood took a folky turn, the blue-hair-dyed frontman finger-picked ditty Love Is Selfish and showed a vulnerable side with McCrary on the piano and Davis on the cello for A Tip From You to Me, the first track from Entering Heaven Alive.
Then, he brought us to Hotel Yorba. Although some might say that country music is the opposite of punk rock music, fans of White seemed to love him for him as they danced the twist in the crowd.
White grew up as a Catholic boy in the midwest who got the gift of an electric guitar, and that’s how he rolls. If I had to describe White to someone, it would be an emo cowboy meets the joker with his blue-dyed hair, white makeup-painted face, skinny jeans, cowboy jacket, complete with point-toe cowboy boots.
That said, the mellow moments were few and far between, and he went on with older Stripes songs like The Same Boy You’ve Always Known and Fell in Love With a Girl before giving way to freaky but fun 2010s-era crowd-favourite Lazaretto and even Love Is Blindness, the soundtrack he did for The Great Gatsby movie.
White informed the crowd that there will be change in tone, as he switched to a D minor for If I Die Tomorrow, another new song from Entering Heaven Alive.
My favourite song from his set was new song A Tree on Fire from Within (I can hear some Beatles in it) and Stripes classic We’re Going to Be Friends. More mellow, more my style, but still very much Jack White.
White also treated fans to one tune by his other band, the Dead Weather (I Cut Like a Buffalo) and then kicked off to the last song before the encore with another old favourite, The Hardest Button to Button.
After he and his crew left the stage, the crowd continued to cheer, like they knew the concert wasn’t over, chanting the start of Seven Nation Army.
After a while, White and his band came back and started the encore with Icky Thump, Steady As She Goes, and finally ended on a high note, giving the crowd what they wanted with Seven Nation Army. The crowd were crazy, jumping and having fun.
In all, White’s concert was magnificent, audacious, and electrifying. While there were less than 2,000 people in the mid-size theatre, without bands like The White Stripes popularizing garage rock, indie, and alternative, we wouldn’t have bands like the Black Keys or Cage the Elephant.