Sometimes the theatrics of being Jack White overshadow a simple truth. For all of his quirks, namely his obsession with and control of his mythology, he will go down as one of his generation’s true visionaries.
As the guiding light of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and the Dead Weather, White arrived at Agganis Arena Friday night with a new solo album. He released “Blunderbuss” earlier this year, and on the road he’s bringing it to life with a six-piece, all-female band he has dubbed the Peacocks.
With everything from pedal steel to fiddle to upright bass in the mix, they made a motley crew. White has washed the red from his aesthetic, replaced by ethereal white, right down to the dresses of most of his bandmates and his alabaster complexion.
Despite using maybe half of the stage, with White and his Peacocks fanning out to form something of a semi-circle, they filled it with meaty riffs that often sounded like bones crushing. They opened with “Sixteen Saltines,” led by drummer Carla Azar pummeling almost as fast and furious as White wailing nearby on his guitar.
For a man known for his guitar prowess, he mostly kept the histronics in check except for a few choice moments (“Ball and Biscuit”). Ruby Amanfu, who’s also featured on “Blunderbuss,” re-created her duet with White, “Love Interruption,” and added soulful vocals throughout the night.
It was interesting to note the lineage of White’s other bands and realize how each has informed his new solo album. The primal, one-two punch of the White Stripes was gloriously intact on “The Hardest Button to Button” and “I’m Slowly Turning Into You.” “We’re Going to Be Friends” was as tender as it sounded more than 10 years ago on the Stripes’ breakthrough record, “White Blood Cells.”
Meanwhile, “Hotel Yorba,” which White introduced as a country song, was exactly that: a blast of honky tonk that got dragged kicking and screaming to the nearest punk-rock bar. (A Hank Williams cover, “You Know That I Know,” was further testament to White’s debt to classic country.)
From the Raconteurs catalog, the band fleshed out “Top Yourself” until it became a slithery version of its original self. Likewise, the closing “Seven Nation Army” rumbled out of the speakers like a mutant clone. The guitar riff — bom, bom, bom-bom, bom, bom, bom — was familiar, except leaner and somehow filthier. The same could be said for White’s evolution as an artist.