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A non-English language teaching interlude… [Note – click on the images to get to the original photos, shared via Creative Commons on Flickr by the respective photographers]

On Thursday 21 June I made my way out for the first live gig I have been to in ages. My evening started with a post-work drink in Bromley, then jumping on a train to Brixton to meet Willy Cardoso. Way back a few months ago, Willy posted a link to the show, asking if anyone fancied joining him in seeing White perform. I didn’t know anything of his solo stuff at that point (White has just released a new album on his own) but had enjoyed enough of his White Stripes work to know this concert would be worth it.

I’m most definitely glad I went.

Willy and I went for a couple of pre-gig drinks in a pub just down the road from Brixton Academy, catching up a little about teaching to the backdrop of Portugal-Czech Republic. If I hadn’t been to a gig anywhere for a while, it had been even longer since I had been to the Brixton Academy. There is quite a nice, more traditional music venue feel to this place, with a large-ish, cavernous performance area.

We had tickets for the upper circle, quite up and away from the stage, but actually given the volume of some of the performance probably saved our ears a little! Sadly, photography was prohibited so I haven’t got any shots of the gig 🙁

First up were the support act, a Swedish three-piece called First Aid Kit, the minimalism of their set almost a throwback to the stripped down nature of the White Stripes, which was just Jack and Meg White. The Swedes gave a spirited performance of their country-esque music and were a really nice counterpoint to what was to come later. A short (their set was only about 30 minutes long) but sweet introduction to the evening.

And then came White. There was a slight air of mystery at the beginning of his set, as the instruments were all covered with cloth. I read earlier this morning on the Guardian music website that White actually has two backing bands – one all-female and the other all-male – and that he only decides which will play at breakfast the morning of his gigs. While not so good for his carbon footprint,. transporting all those musicians and instruments around, it’s in keeping with his well-documented eccentricity. As it was, we were in for the bloke-version, with Los Buzzardos backing up White.

And it started pretty heavy. As I mentioned above, I enjoyed a number of his White Stripes songs, but didn’t really know very many of them or much of his projects inbetween then and now, the Raconteurs and Dead Weather. I have to say that there wasn’t a song in the set that I didn’t like – the same is true for me of his first solo album, Blunderbuss. I can easily listen to all of the songs on it.

White certainly was in a pretty electric mood, whirling round the stage and pretty much shredding the guitar. The upbeat nature was encapsulated in what he said after one of the early numbers in the set…

London is alive and well and kicking. You get one nice day of weather yesterday and you just spring alive don’t you?

I’m most definitely of the opinion that Blunderbuss is some fine work, with heavy moments like Sixteen Saltines sitting alongside more mellow songs like Love Interruption. I was disappointed that the latter didn’t feature during the evening, but there were more than enough brilliant moments to make up for that. Jack White was in fine form.

If you have the opportunity to see White rocking his solo work, I wholeheartedly recommend that you do =)