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'Jack' of all trades: White wows C-ville audience

If I could combine the Jack White concert I saw at Firefly Music Festival in July with his concert last weekend in Charlottesville, I’d be in Jack White heaven. At Firefly he spontaneously shred on his guitar, leaving fans awestruck by his overwhelming raw talent. He also graced the festival’s stage with a rousing rendition of “Seven Nation Army,” which he casually and tragically omitted from last Thursday’s set list. But if you only saw White here in Charlottesville, you got an amazing show.

White was energetic and interactive as he rocked out at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion. He started the show with a big “Hello, Virginia!” and maintained a positive attitude throughout the show. The former White Stripes frontman brought a playful vibe to the performance, introducing himself as John but saying, “My friends call me Jack.”

White seemed to be having just as much fun as the rest of us. He let the crowd sing back and forth with him, and he and the band members were clearly in a great groove with one another. When the rock star started one of his many insane guitar solos, he bent over the guitar and danced on the stage like someone lost in his own musical world. And he brought us all to that terrific place with him.

Highlights of the show included “Steady, As She Goes” and “Freedom at 21,” both of which sounded absolutely incredible. White communicates so brilliantly with his guitar he could probably get away with not speaking at all, but life is rough when you also have one of the alt-rock world’s most memorable (and sexy) voices.

One thing that makes White’s concerts so wonderful is the incredible range of material he has to choose from. Between White Stripes songs, tunes from The Raconteurs, country covers he’s done, his own solo work and numerous other projects, choosing a set list for his shows probably comes down to the whims of his mood. Fortunately, at least for the most part, White chose well with his Thursday night offerings, which seemed hand-picked for a Virginia crowd with an affection for country music.

Ending with the old classic “Goodnight, Irene,” which he covered magnificently, proved the perfect way to round out the evening. The audience sang along with White’s powerful voice. Though I was disappointed not to hear “Seven Nation Army,” this ending, as well as the rest of the show, made for an incredible experience. No matter what the man plays, a Jack White concert always amounts to a special night of great music with arguably the coolest and most talented guitarist of our generation.

When White and his band closed the show and bowed he said his final goodbye to Virginia: “I’m sorry it’s been so long. I won’t be such a stranger anymore.” I hope so, Jack. If not, I could always become a groupie after graduation.


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