Despite being one of his generations finest songwriters there is a feeling that Jack White has something to prove with his latest venture following a string of recent collaborations which have veered between the so-so and the bizarre.
It is a brave move for White to go solo, no longer able to use the loose concepts behind The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather as shields from criticism. If this fails then it is quite literally his name at stake. That said, ridding himself of those side projects and stepping front and center moves White back into his element and tonight he quickly emerges from the blocks.
Taking on an almost heritage staus suits White, creating room for his magnetic stage presence and wowing with his impressive debut solo work as well as a host of fan favourites from the past.
Of the new it is the instantaneous 'Sixteen Saltines' and 'Missing Pieces', tonight fleshed out by an all female backing band, that fit the live surroundings most. White is touring with two backing bands, one all male and another female, with rumour suggesting he keeps them on their toes by only alerting the lucky band performing that night to the news over breakfast. This dictatorial streak pays dividends as each member of the band playing as if their future depends on it, which, when you think about it, it kind of does.
With The Dead Weather and Raconteurs it often felt like White was holding himself back so not to pull focus from his friends, like a champion sprinter jogging behind his not so speedy competition. However, he does re-visit both bands tonight with a grimy take on the former's 'I Cut Like A Buffalo' particularly impressing. A visit to 'Rome', the album White recorded with Daniele Lupi, is perhaps one career avenue we need not have turned down, however.
On the basis of new material the Jack White solo experience is thoroughly enjoyable, as befits one of the best albums of 2012 thus far. However, it is the addition of a smattering of White Stripes material that makes tonight special. An upholsterer by trade, White knows the value of adding decoration to a solid structure and revisiting 'Hotel Yorba' and a gloriously deconstructed 'Ball and Biscuit' will never dissappoint. Meanwhile, an intense blast of 'Seven Nation Army' ensures nobody goes home with anything but *that* riff rattling between their ears.
By stripping away the excess and locking down his sheer talent, Jack White has once again found himself in the same place he created his greatest work. If tonight is anything to go by, the point is proven and the future is looking very exciting indeed.