Jack White, Demob Happy: Space, Exhibition Centre, Liverpool

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Jack White (Credit: Artist Facebook Page)

As Jack White brought his Boarding House Reach tour to Liverpool, Getintothis’ Social Media Editor Lucy McLachlan attempts to go for four hours without her phone.

There’s a beautiful sunset illuminating the Echo Arena as we walk up and people are taking photos.

What on earth did we do without mobile phones?

The big news when Jack White rolled into town is that there would be absolutely no mobile phones allowed.  Which in an age of documenting your every move in life sounds incredibly challenging and we’re wondering how the arena will be monitoring such a large crowd with electronic devices.

The answer is Yondr and before the show we already Googled ways to pry them open be it with fire or pocket knife.

Bags are searched. Twice. Phones are located and fished out, popped inside a grey and green neoprene pouch and locked together by one of those magnetic pins they put on clothes in places like M&S to stop you from shoplifting a lovely wool cardigan.  We’re told there’s an area inside by the bar where you can unlock your pouch should you get any social media withdrawal.

I can tell you within five minutes this writer had made a beeline for the bathrooms, defaced the pouch and tried to force it open with some keys.  It didn’t work. So we visited the phone usage pen of despair, a holding area where everyone can walk past and look at those who can’t be without the internet for more than half an hour and sent a message for help.

Going into Space, this is a strange feeling.  As a woman alone at quite a large venue, it was the go to distraction to look busy on a phone.  Now how does one deter unwanted attention? Should we have brought a book and a flashlight?

Finally Brighton based three piece Demob Happy strut onstage, they are pure masculine cockrock with a large amount of 70s glam.   For every song they played a button on a silk shirt comes undone to the point where the drummer discards his altogether.  The sound is Royal Blood meets T-Rex with added testosterone.

More waiting around resisting the urge to bore a whole through the neoprene phone case to exactly where the camera lens is. We have no idea what time it is, who wears watches these days anyways?

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As the lights go down and the band appear, Jack White joins last to rapturous applause.

We’re treated to a set spanning his whole career from early The White Stripes to his most recent solo work and the entire room is one giant love in for the man himself.

Starting with Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground and a honky tonk version of Hotel Yorba from 2001’s White Blood Cells, That Black Bat Licorice from 2014’s Lazaretto and Love Interruption from 2012’s Blunderbuss we truly are getting a greatest hits show rather than showcasing new album Boarding House Reach.

Songs are broken up by instrumental jams with White leading his band including incredible drummer Carla Azar and a keyboard player we mistook for Pat Smear.  They looked at him to lead the way just as the crowd ate up his showmanship.  No distractions meant every song is a sing along or a clap along (we feel like this had died out a little when you have a phone in one hand) and White appears to revel in hearing the crowd sing the words back to him.

Other highlights or the set include the scuzzy Black Math and You Got Her In Your Pocket from Elephant, Hello Operator from De Stijl and I’m Slowly Turning Into You from Icky ThumpWhite struts around the stage, in particular for The Dead Weather‘s Cut Like A Buffalo jumping on monitors, holding his guitar up in the air thriving off the crowd.

The real joy comes after the encore where the audience are treated to The Raconteurs Steady As She Goes and Space really starts to liven up.  The crowd are split in half for a mass singalong with everyone bouncing along. With recent news that the supergroup featuring White, Brendan Benson and members of The Greenhornes are recording new material we’re hoping it won’t be long before Jack White makes a return to Liverpool.

It’s fitting that the final song of the night is Seven Nation Army, a song that has been lifted to a legendary status thanks to the ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn‘ chant heard at festivals and gigs everywhere.  This night of course is no different, the venue lights up full of hands in the air chanting along, one of those you had to be there moments.  A few people had managed to unleash their phones hastily videoing the moment.

The show felt like something special and in the age of using phones to remember moments, it does feel somewhat strange to come away and not have anything to show for it.   No shit gig photos of Jack White holding his guitar in the air above the crowd, no selfies with mates in the audience, no terrible quality videos of a whole room full of people singing Steady As She Goes.  It’s just all in our heads.

But on the other side, not having a phone in your hand immersed the crowd in the show and the spectacle White put on.  He had the audience in the palm of his hand and most songs were sung back at him, everyone was watching his every move and all eyes were on him.

It would have been great to have had something to take away from the show, the odd few ‘i was there’ photos are great mementos to take away and share around the world but lets not take the piss and record the whole gig.

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