He’s jammed with Spoon and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder during his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour . On Thursday night, Conan O’Brien lived the ultimate rock ’n roll fantasy when he traded licks with the White Stripes’ Jack White in front of 300 fans during an intimate show at White’s Third Man Records outlet in Nashville.
“Those lucky couple hundred people who waited in line all day today and got into Third Man Records tonight got a treat: AN AMAZING ROCK AND ROLL SHOW,” read the post on O’Brien’s blog describing the evening, which was titled “Epic.”
The post continued: “Conan blazed through a rocking setlist of stuff from our ’Legally Prohibited’ show — as well as a few other jams that we’ve never done! The energy in the room was incredible: The band lit by a dim red light, the hot Nashville air thick with excitement; the room packed to capacity — it was a scene the likes of which I’ve never experienced. I could totally see this show being something that happened outside under a tent in the South in the ’50s. A very, very cool vibe.”
According to reports, O’Brien, sporting his off-the-air beard and an all-black ensemble and wielding a light blue Fender electric guitar, told the crowd, “I’ve had a crazy six months. … Six months ago, I was the host of ’The Tonight Show,’ the greatest franchise in the history of television. Then I started a live tour, going from small theater to small theater. And tonight I’m pressing a vinyl recording. I’m going back in time! Next week I’ll be on vaudeville. Then I’ll be a steamship captain.”
The whole show was recorded on reel-to-reel tape and will soon be released as a vinyl album. Among the songs O’Brien played: Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”; the Band’s “The Weight”; the White Stripes’ classic “Seven Nation Army”; Elvis Presley’s “Blue Moon”; the Stray Cats’ “Rock This Town”; and Radiohead’s “Creep.” The set ended with White trading licks with O’Brien on Eddie Cochran’s early rock classic “20 Flight Rock.” The whole thing was so old-school that at one point during the set, the band had to take a breather so a technician could change the reel-to-reel tapes.
According to The Associated Press, O’Brien played it mostly straight, but he did add comedic touches to some songs. He deployed an exaggerated British accent on “Creep,” saying, “This is the only way I can sing Thom Yorke songs, as a 19th-century chimney sweep with a top hat and a smudge on my cheek.” No sooner had he joked about the old-timey vibe than White walked out on stage with a top hat, which O’Brien rocked during the run through the British band’s breakthrough hit.
O’Brien also rewrote the lyrics to Nelson’s “On the Road Again,”
singing, “My old show again/ I just can’t wait to get my old show again… Off the road again, dear God please get me off the road again.” He closed out the concert by thanking TBS for giving him a new talk show , which debuts in the fall.
More than 1,000 people had lined up around the block on a scorching-hot Nashville day in order to secure one of the 300 audience spots in the small performance space at White’s downtown complex, with some securing their places in line 24 hours before the show. White tossed bottles of water to those in line from the roof of Third Man during the day and O’Brien was clearly moved at the end of the night, telling the sweat-soaked crowd, “This means everything to me. This was so cool.”
O’Brien will do it all over again this weekend, when he performs at the Bonnaroo festival.