Jack White has been keeping busy since his appearance high on the bill at Glastonbury last weekend, with gigs in Paris and Amsterdam as well as three in London — this conventional one, a small show for Radio 1 listeners and a bizarre theatrical event late on Wednesday, at which attendees were dressed in medical gowns and led to the music through a disused building by fake doctors.
Here he was in full flow before the curtains even opened for an incendiary set that showed the former White Stripes man at his loudest. He now has two solo albums as part of a long and varied back catalogue, which add piano and folky violin to a once minimal sound but maintain roots in the blues. There was also a theremin, slide guitar and keyboards on stage but it was always White’s blazing electric guitar work and vocal hysteria that dominated.
High Ball Stepper was the most impressive oddity, a lurching rocker whose only words were whoops from violinist Lillie Mae Rische. She worked hard with her instrument but was only really audible on rare softer songs such as Love Interruption and Temporary Ground.
The fuller sound wasn’t necessarily an improvement on reworked White Stripes songs such as Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground. That band’s power was in the mighty racket they drew from just two people.
With more personnel, White’s magnetism was slightly diminished, yet he still played as though he could summon an orchestra from his instrument.
He scattered a few hits around, including an inevitable finale of his classic, Seven Nation Army. Mostly, though, the red and white was forgotten on a blue-lit stage where he operated in the moment.