After many tries, I managed to nail some Jack White tix for one of his shows at Radio City Music Hall.  I was nearly not to be because I wasn’t able to get tickets to the first show, but a second show went on sale shortly after the first one sold out and I got a pair for the second night.

Turned out, I was one of the lucky ones.  Not because I actually managed to score highly sought-after tickets.  But because as most would know by now, JW cut his show short on the first night.  There was outrage after the show.  Not like car fires or riots and looting – this is New York, not Detroit, after all.  No, trilby-adorned post-hipsters would rage against JW the only way they know how: by blowing up the #jackwhitedebacle hashtag on Twitter.  NOTHING expresses your rage better than letting your thumbs bang out a series of furious tweets to all your followers, amirite!

That said, I felt bad for those who paid hard-earned money to go to see JW on Saturday and got robbed of a full experience.  On Sunday, people were searching were answers.  As was I, because I had tickets to see him on Sunday, and wanted to know if I was going to get robbed of a proper show as well.  But no clear answers came.  Some suggested that JW was pissed that crowd wasn’t into it enough – the now infamous “NPR convention” rebuke – while others suggested that he was pissed because he felt that most of Saturday’s tickets got scooped up by scalpers, yet others suggested that the JW got pissy about the sound system.  Not that any of it mattered because not a single answer would’ve been good enough for the people who went to that show.  Regardless of how they came about their tickets or their mood, they paid and showed up for a proper show.  And the only thing that JW was obligated to deliver – a proper show – was nowhere to be found.  Too fucking right people were fucked off.

So when Sunday evening rolled around, we made our way to Radio City.  I’d been waiting for this show for months.  Screw that: years.  I never made it to a White Stripes show.  And scheduling conflicts kept me from Raconteurs and Dead Weather shows.  Finally, this was my chance to see one off my long-admired artistes.

But as I drew closer to Radio City, I wasn’t feeling as charged up as I had expected.  The specter of Saturday night still hung over my psyche, and I walked into the lobby with reserved expectations.  Clearly I wasn’t alone, I could feel the same dense fog of apprehension all around me as well.  There seemed to be this muted hush, everyone’s mood seemed more downbeat than I’d ever seen.  Everyone knew what happened the night before.  Everyone probably had the same mixed feelings of “I hope he doesn’t pull that shit tonight” and “he’s can’t possibly be that much of a bitch two nights in a row, right?”

The slightly tense atmosphere was further confirmed when one of the dapperly dressed roadies greeted the crowd before JW came on, and said, “Let’s try this again, shall we?”

Yes, let’s.

The clock ticked after 9pm, the lights went down, and JW and his bevy of band members (we got the girl band) took the stage, and right out of gates, the show started weird.  I may be mistaken, but it sounded like everyone started with one song, then abruptly changed to “Missing Pieces”.  A bit like how Led Zeppelin would start “Black Dog” by playing the opening riff of “Out On The Tiles” to throw you off.

What followed was a frenetic and furious set.  JW tore through his set with a certain amount of rage and haste.  He pounded through one song, then the next, and the next, and the one after that, and on, and on.  The show was a runaway train, as if JW himself was trying to get the hell out of Dodge.  Between songs, he’d only pause if he needed to change instruments, and then it was off to the races again.

I don’t think JW addressed the audience even once.  No hellos, no banter, no intros, no goodbyes.  It was business from beginning to end.  JW wasn’t interested at all in connecting with the audience.  It was straight up, “You want it, here it is!”  It didn’t seem antagonistic, he just got right down to it, no fuckin’ about.  If that’s the sort of show he wanted to put on, then I’m in for the ride.  Less talk, more rock, thank you.

Yet, I couldn’t help feeling throughout the entire show that JW was holding us all hostage.  Between songs, the crowd cheered and hollered, as you would expect any concert crowd to.  But this time, I felt like I was cheering to just keep JW happy, to keep from storming off the stage like he did the previous night.  When there were quiet pauses between songs, it was as if JW was testing the crowd to see if we were all riled up enough to be worthy of the next song.  “Don’t go, Jack, we’ll all scream loudly so you’ll keep playing!”

And that is a straight-up load of arse.

That is not how I want to experience a show.  I don’t want to cheer a performer to avoid a negative outcome. I want to cheer because I’m fucking into the show, and I’m trying to laud genuine well-earned praise.  And while JW’s set was completely praiseworthy – it was a damn good show – the previous night’s antics had left an indelible stain.

I get that JW’s a pretty intense fucker.  He’s not running for Mr. Congeniality.  In case anyone forgot, he’s a fucking rock star.  Things like tantrums, going off the playbook, getting fucked off, getting into fights are all good ol’ straight up rock star bullshit.  Hell, the show I went to see before this was Jesus And Mary Chain at the Irving Plaza, and the crowd were actually stunned when the Reid brothers didn’t get into a fight and storm off the stage after 15 minutes.  It’s one thing to see this sort of shit coming (case in point, G’n’R, Nirvana, JAMC, etc.).  But this wasn’t typical Jack White territory.

He’s not even close to being the first performer to pull shit like this, and he’s far from being the last.  But when you’re a rock star who’s ambitious enough to tour with not one, but TWO bands, and you insist in playing a different setlist every night, you better get your shit together.  No one made you go on tour, Jack White.  You took this on yourself.  And then you took our money.

Get it together and make it fucking work.