By Mary J. DiMeglio
In a blistering set that stretched 30 minutes longer than its scheduled two hours, White and his band tore through material spanning from White Stripes favorites to his second solo effort, Lazaretto, which dropped Tuesday.
A chatty White — always a compelling storyteller — had lots to say to his Bonnaroo audience, with speeches that cast him in every possible light, from disgruntled artist to Everyman.
White, who lives in Nashville, just an hour up the road from the fest, kicked things off with “Icky Thump” and played a number of other beloved White Stripes tunes, including “Little Bird,” “Hello Operator,” “Ball and Biscuit” and “We’re Going to Be Friends.”
“Steady As She Goes” represented his work with the Raconteurs, and he shredded his way through cuts from Lazaretto — follow-up to 2012’s chart-topping, Grammy-nominated Blunderbuss — including the title track (heavy on distortion), “Three Women” and “Alone in My Home.”
White dissed Rolling Stone, deeming the iconic music publication “a tabloid” after a recent cover story that cast him in an unfavorable light: “Who makes music happen? Does a tabloid like Rolling Stone make music happen?” he asked the crowd. “You and I make it exist!”
The prolific songwriter also gave many, many shout-outs to everyone from legendary Tennessee artists (Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Dolly Parton) and fellow Bonnaroo performer Nick Cave to Detroit auto workers, and really, all workers: “Thank you for whatever job you do out there, thank you for doing it.”
For his grand finale, White brought on the big guns: his “Seven Nation Army” stomp, which had the crowd chanting its infectious bassline well after White and his team departed the stage.
Never lacking for projects, White’s currently working on the third Dead Weather album (they released a pair of new songs late last year), and with Neil Young on his upcoming A Letter Home, which White will release on his Third Man Records label.