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Concert Reviews:
The Dead Weather Delivers At Surprise Show

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Saturday, June 13, 2009

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DETROIT -- For those seeking to take their minds off the Red Wings' Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals loss on Friday night (June 12), the Dead Weather delivered.

The Nasvhille-based all-star group -- the latest musical enterprise of Detroit native and White Stripes/Raconteurs leader Jack White -- snuck into town with a surprise show at the Magic Stick, announced online the morning of the show. Only the quartet's second full-scale concert, the 55-minute performance was a true guerrilla maneuver, part of a run of five "practice" shows for the full-scale Dead Weather tour that starts July 13 and comes to the Fillmore Detroit on July 24 to support the band's first album, "Horehound," due out July 14.

A combination of the late notice and the Wings game kept the numbers down, but the several hundred who made it to the show witnessed a potent outfit still exploring its sound and style.

Drawing mostly (10 of 13) songs from "Horehound," the Dead Weather's particular brand of psychedelic blues was certainly suited for exorcising the kind of angst that comes after your team loses the big game -- dark, gritty, raw, dynamically inventive and abundantly loud, marked by taut, ebb-and-flow arrangements and given to fierce swells of noise and eardrum-piercing squeals of feedback. Singer Alison Mosshart of the Kills (who has family in the Detroit area and spent time here as a youth), meanwhile, charged the performances with a smoldering sexuality and subtle swagger, right down to the cigarette she casually brandished at various points of the night.

The Dead Weather's twist is that White, celebrated for his guitar work in his other bands (and in the film "Might Get Loud," which rolls out in August), plays drums, returning to the role he had in the Detroit group Goober & the Peas and effectively locking in with bassist Jack Lawrence (the Greenhornes, the Raconteurs, Blanche) to give the songs powerful propulsion. That makes Ferndale's Dean Fertita -- a onetime Ractoneurs sideman who was part of Detroit's Waxwings and now plays in Queens of the Stone Age -- the Dead Weather's secret weapon, lacing trippy blues guitar licks through songs such as "60 Feet Tall," "Bone House" and "Child of a Few Hours" along with keyboard accents for "So Far From Your Weapon" and a cover of Them's "You Just Can't Win."

The Dead Weather showed its funk chops on "I Cut Like a Buffalo" and "New Pony," as well as some soul flavor on "No Hassle Night." And White did come out to play guitar on one song, sharing the center microphone with Mossheart on "Will There Be Enough Water" while Lawrence took over on drums. There was little chit-chat -- just a "Thank you, Detroit. We'll see you soon" at the end of the show. The music did the talking instead -- and will hopefully, as the group intended, kindled some positive word-of-mouth as "Horehound's" release approaches.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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