button The Dead Weather @ Zepp Tokyo (31st Mar. '10)

Black & Blue :
The Dead Weather Hang from the Heavens

The Dead Weather
      So-called "Supergroups" can disappoint. Any time members of your favorite bands embark on a new project together, it's inevitable that one musician's vision overshadows another's, or that the entire project is such a capricious lark by all involved that the byproduct bears no resemblance to what made their music so special to you in the first place.

The Dead Weather      I'm willing to wager that the Dead Weather will not suffer from this affliction. For one thing, each member and their principal bands share a similar concept: crunchy, riff-heavy blues rock. Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs plays rock n' roll steeped in blues tradition, while Dean Fertita's Queens of the Stone Age trades in bone-crushing hooks that frequently follow blues signifiers. But it's the main duo of Allison Mosshart (the Kills) and seemingly omnipresent Jack White (White Stripes) that reflect the blues ethos best through their music. Both come from male/female duos that take the blues into an almost post-modern dichotomy of sardonic indie cred and sincere honor to the masters. Both have such strong personalities as frontwoman & frontman of their respective bands that I was curious how (or if) they could occupy the same stage. Yet at Zepp Tokyo last Wednesday, they proved that despite prolific work with their main gigs, their chemistry together as the Dead Weather is both profound and perhaps only in its nascent stages.

The Dead Weather      As the first chords of album opener "60 feet tall" ricocheted off the balcony seats, Mosshart struts on stage, her silhouette seen against a black and green backdrop glowing with an eerie symmetry somewhere between an indigenous sacred painting and a spinal x-ray. She thrusts and quivers as Lawrence and Fertita riff on dual white full-body guitars, carrying the momentum into "Hang You From the Heavens," one of the band's first singles. All hands are in the air, because despite Mosshart's charisma, it's White that the mob wants to see, and as he approaches, they nuts.

      The first two songs followed the sequencing of their only album, Horehound, and for a band with one record, it's understandable if they'd play it through. But the drum-less Van Morrison cover ("You Just Can't Win") that followed next was the first hint of the band's versatility. White leaves the kit to squeals from the crowd. He walks center stage, adjusts his shirt, wipes sweat from his brow and stares straight into the front row. "One more coffee; One more cigarette," he begins, sounding almost like he's reading for his role in the Jarmuch film of the same name.

The Dead Weather      Soon it's back behind the kit for White and the pause-then-pound propulsion of the blues that informs the work. White's drumming is unexpectedly clever, playing around the beat like a jazz drummer might if he sat in on a John Lee Hooker session. It also allows Mosshart to be the center of attention again, something she richly deserves. As they crank through new material like "Blue Black Blues" and "Hustle & Cuss," she strides the stage, hair completely obscuring her eyes, wrapping the mic cord around her wrists and neck for effect. Draw erotic undertones from this if you like, but despite the seductive nature of the band's music (and the undeniable good looks of its lead vocalist), Mosshart refrains from the pelvic thrusts and bump-and-grind mechanics you might expect. The sexual dynamics of her stagecraft only truly come to the fore during album closer, "Will There be Enough Water?", the final number before encore. Here Mosshart and White stare each other down from a shared microphone, their lips so close as to kiss. The tension is only broken through shredding sessions on the guitar in the song's finale.

The Dead Weather      White thanks the audience and walks offstage, but no one's fooled: the lights remain dim and two of the band's singles (and best songs) have yet to be played. They reappear moments later, starting the encore with a cover of doom metal band, Pentagram's "Forever my Queen." From Van Morrison to Pentagram? Impressive. Then at last, Fertita approaches the organ and I know it's time for "Cut Like a Buffalo" and "Treat me Like Your Mother," which both use squelchy stabs at the keyboard that seem to curdle the very air around it. I've heard these songs described as a hybrid of Led Zepplin and Suicide, which isn't too far off, and if this is the direction Dead Weather are going, then this will be one "Supergroup" that could surpass its members original projects. No disappointment there.
The Dead Weather
 -- setlist --

60 ft.Tall / Heavens / You Just Can't Win / Weapon / No Horse / Die By The Drop / Blue Blood Blues / Rocking Horse / Child of a Few Hours / Jawbreaker / Hustle & Cuss / New Pony / No Hassle / Enough Water

 -- encore --

Forever My Queen / Buffalo / I Can't Hear You / Mother

report by jinki and photos by yoshitaka
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buttonBlack & Blue: The Dead Weather Hang from the Heavens (10/03/31 @ Zepp Tokyo) : review by jinki, photos by yoshitaka
buttonphoto report (10/03/31 @ Zepp Tokyo) : photos by yoshitaka

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