Impressive picture by Drunk Paddy

Jack White, Goodnight.

Jack White, Lazaretto, solo, live, Dublin, royal hospital kilmainham, the white stripes, jack white in concert, goodnight Irene - HeadStuff.org
Impressive picture by Drunk Paddy

I might still be suffering from the affects of too-acute an excitement to write about this. But I feel like I had one of those experiences that they always try to make films about but fail to get the emotion across adequately.

Jack White did it to me. I think it was all the components. Take an ultra-talented music maestro, throw in free tickets, a drunk best friend, rain and a particular song played at precisely the right moment.

Jack White is one of my favourite recording artists. I love his style, his class and his taste. He is one of the reasons that I got into blues music. I can confess to being a fan of everything he has done, namely: The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, and his solo stuff. The man knows how to furnish my headphones.

But, I’m poor. It was a major bother for me to keep seeing the posters for his Dublin show everywhere. I couldn’t afford tickets, and that was it. I drowned my sorrows in the World Cup, which I had been doing every day for the past two weeks anyway (go Colombia!). I sat there, in my football nest, food at reachable distance, the couch pushed forward so I didn’t have to do so much as squint to see the match timer. I was doing a good job of ignoring the fact of the concert. I was feigning happiness in ignorance. It was working.

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Paddy, my housemate, my friend, my responsibility on nights out that he drinks too much, was out drinking too much. He would be moving out of our apartment in two days, moving to Galway. He was down the pub having goodbye drinks with anyone who would say goodbye to him.

He rang me. The first thought that came into my head was that he was very drunk and he wanted a lift. A plea I was ready to resist. I was in my nest.

“Hey man, what are ya up ta?” He asked in slurred smush-words.

“What do you think I’m doing? What have we been doing at this time every day?”

I could work out that he forgot about the match over the sound of the boozy craic by hints of smush-words.

“What do you want?” I said.

“Do you want to go to Jack White?”

I looked at my phone. I looked at the time. I looked at the match. I thought. I worked out the words in various orders. Then I responded. “What?”

“Jack White. Two tickets. Let’s go!”

I told him I’d pick him up at the pub in five minutes. I brought two rain jackets and I legged it. I pulled up outside the pub, he stumbled into the car. He labored his drunk into a big excited smile and we went on our way.

Someone in the bar had walked up to him, put the tickets on the counter in front of him and said, “do you want them?”

Paddy looked at the tickets. “How much do you want for them?”

“No, do you want them?”

Some guy was with his girlfriend in the pub, she had hurt her heel or some other ridiculous non-reason not to go see Jack White. Our gain.

We made it to the gig. There had been a week of sun in Ireland, so now all that saved up non-fallen rain water was coming down at once as if for the antithesis of a fireworks show, just for Jack himself. I shoe-horned the word ‘antithesis’ in there because it’s a word Jack White used on stage when he dedicated Steady As She Goes to his fiddle player, Lillie Mae Rische (whose birthday it was). She was the absolute antithesis of the song, apparently.

Jack White, Lazaretto, solo, live, Dublin, royal hospital kilmainham, the white stripes, jack white in concert, goodnight Irene, rain, wet audience - HeadStuff.org
Paddy and myself, soaking wet, happy out.

As we were entering the grounds of the gig, people were leaving. They had gathered too much water in their hair, clothes and dispositions. We listened to a song on our way in. We were present and on the roster for the last two songs of his set before the encore. But it didn’t matter. It was spontaneous, out of nowhere, unexpected, and I was there, wet, happy and singing along with Jack White.

The encore is when it all happened anyway. We were treated to a great variety of his extensive and colourful back catalogue. He played songs from Blunderbuss, Lazaretto and songs from The Raconteurs (Steady As She Goes) and The White Stripes (Fell in Love with a Girl, Icky Thumb). And he really plays. He jams with his band. He doesn’t just play the songs how they rehearsed, like the album, like we’ve all heard before. They seem to feel the atmosphere and hit the notes they want, and make the song up as they go. Bits sound new, I’m not a musician, I don’t know what does be going on, but the players are looking at each other and they are playing with each other. It strikes me that it’s how the blues seems when the blues is real, or jazz.

Mr. Jack White was so impressed with all us punters standing in the rain singing with him, clapping our hands, loving him entirely that he just kept playing. He played and played.

“We’re all in this together,” he said.

And we roared delight at him. We roared so much delight at him that I reckon it hit him physically like an over-zealous hug. He loved us. I know he did. Fuck it, he loved me. I know he did. He kept playing and the gig was meant to be over. He played Seven Nation Army to which the grateful crowd duly lost their shit. He knew the P.A. was going to be turned off soon and he urged his friends to hurry along into a new song. The Kills joined him on stage.

This is what did it for me. I have been listening to an awful lot of blues lately. And writing about the blues. But there’s this one song I keep going back to. I can’t even tell you what it is about the song. I just keep putting Goodnight Irene by Leadbelly on. I keep putting it on and on. On and on. On and on.

Jack White, Lazaretto, solo, live, Dublin, royal hospital kilmainham, the white stripes, jack white in concert, goodnight Irene - HeadStuff.org
Photo by Paddy.

When he started to sing ‘Sometimes I live in the country/Sometimes I live in the town. I duly lost my shit. I threw my arm around Paddy. I sung and I swayed and it was the perfect song at the perfect moment. Jack White was saying goodnight to me. He winked at me and we were best pals.

And then another magical thing happened. The powers that be turned off the P.A., the fuckers. Did it stop the honourable Jack White?

No. He kept playing like a good ninja with a big heart (a silent hero who’s a good guy, go with it; it’s late). He came to the front of the stage and like a talented shepherd (go with it) asked his sheep to be quiet. We did that. Everyone was going with it. He shouted to the entire field that the P.A. had been turned off. He would sing the last verse, and that we were to sing the chorus with him.

Normally I’m very aware of my terrible singing voice so I am a fairly reserved crowd singer. Not this time. I was part of this communal moment, this ‘experience’. I went for it, and I took Paddy with me under my wing (arm).

IRENE GOODNIGHT, IRENE GOODNIGHT. GOODNIGHT IRENE, GOODNIGHT IRENE.”

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