By RUTH BORDETT
An eerie shade of blue light beamed down upon the stage at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion on Thursday night as musician Jack White’s all male, five-piece backing band took their places at their respective instruments.
The audience buzzed with anticipation that became ecstatic cheering as White strutted out onto the stage wearing a black fedora covertly tilted down to cover his eyes. Wasting no time, White picked up his guitar and immediately began to play his standout single, “Sixteen Saltines,” giving the crowd a good dose of the heavy electric guitar, garage-metal style of music for which White is renowned.
White, who is best known for his role in the now disbanded “White Stripes,” stopped in Charlottesville, Va. on Sept. 27 to plug his first solo album, “Blunderbuss.” Known for being quite the eccentric oddity, White is a rock music powerhouse who is dedicated to his art.
Opening for White was Shovels and Rope, a two-person band based out of Charleston, S.C. The band describes their music as “Harmony driven folk, rock and country songs using two old guitars, a kick drum, a snare, a few tambourines, harmonicas and maybe a little keyboard.” The crowd received the band’s unique, upbeat sound well, and it fit well, considering White’s affinity for the south.
For his solo tour, White has put together two separate backing bands, one all female, the other all male. An article about White from the New York Times explains that White has made the puzzling decision to have both bands travel with him for his tour, but with only one performing onstage with him each night.
“He wasn’t announcing which until the morning of the show-even the bands would be surprised,” according to the New York Times.
Catherine Purtell, a sophomore from the University of Mary Washington who attended the show, thought White’s turn onstage as a solo artist exceeded her already high expectations. Having previously seen White play with two of his other bands, the Dead Weather and the Raconteurs, Purtell preferred White’s solo concert.
She said she appreciated the fairly small size of the venue, as it allowed the audience a more intimate view of the enigmatic White.
“I noticed that Jack could really feel and had an emotional attachment to the music he was playing, which is something that you just don’t find with musicians now,” Purtell said.
Playing only a select few songs from “Blunderbuss,” White’s set list largely consisted of various songs from the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and some Hank Williams and Lead Belly covers thrown in for good measure.
Although White wasn’t much for chatting, he maintained a playful manner with the crowd and seemed to enjoy himself, revealing a smile from time to time. Overall, his focus was the music. He displayed a high level of showmanship and proved just why he is such a highly regarded musician.
After the show, a small group of concert-goers patiently waited in the rain behind metal barricades, their eyes locked on White’s tour buses hoping to glimpse or get a slight acknowledgement from White himself. However, true to his mysterious ways, White quietly slipped onto his bus before he could even be recognized, leaving fans speechless, yet steeped in amazement, as they silently watched his army of tour buses drive off into the night.