Flooded in electric blue light in the majestic Saenger Theatre on Tuesday June 3, Jack White shrieked and shredded through his collection of brilliant blues-rock for a sold-out show in New Orleans. The beautifully restored historic venue played perfect host to the vintage-obsessed artist, and its lush atmosphere complemented the decidedly polished turn White's music and image have taken since he first hit the national scene over a decade ago pegged as gritty garage rocker.
Stripes and solo tunes dominated the set, with White flaunting his prowess through heavily improvised versions of old and new favorites. Lyrics from the Dead Weather's “Cut Like a Buffalo” were tossed into an epic rendition of the Raconteurs' “Steady as She Goes.” Earlier, White softly started the intro to his previous solo title track “Blunderbuss” before tossing it aside and leaning into a heavier tune.
White's ability to attack his body of work from any angle he chooses is even more impressive this go-round as The Third Man finds himself one of six musicians on stage. While none has come close to the airtight bond the musician shared with former bandmate Meg White, Jack still made a clear effort to connect with each of the other players — seasoned musicians from all corners of the States — in a way that ensured he could blast from sentimental to scorching and back again without a hitch.
White is currently on tour to promote his new album “Lazaretto,” which was slated for release one week after White's New Orleans tour date. After opening the show with the brand new fiddle-ridden, folk/blues instrumental “High Ball Stepper,” White took the mike and kid with the crowd that he was “not really sure when” the album was supposed to come out but that everyone should check it out when it does. Fans were treated to performances of more than half of the upcoming album's tracks, including the then-unreleased “Three Women,” a highlight of the show, which White banged out on piano while wailing “Lordy Lord” about his three women: red, blonde and brunette.
White served up a hefty encore, tearing out from behind the briefly closed curtain with the sex-soaked, electric blues banger, “Ball and Biscuit.” Finally, after saying he “couldn't possibly leave Louisiana without playing this next song,” White closed out the show with “Goodnight, Irene,” a folk standard first made known by Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, the blues legend who was born and buried in Caddo Parish. White welcomed the crowd to sing along with him for the heart-breaking lullaby, and afterward, he offered a “God Bless” and disappeared.