I decided long ago when I became a Kills fan that I’d probably be happy to watch Alison Mosshart do damn near anything…as a performer. One thing I never predicted however was the sight of her eye sexing Jack White face-to-face near the close of the Dead Weather’s ridiculously incendiary performance of “Will There Be Enough Water?” on Thursday night at Manhattan’s Terminal 5 venue.

It got a tad sweaty, a lot blurry and made most of the folks standing around me, including the Raconteurs-loving dude loudly espousing his beliefs on Kings of Leon, a wee bit uncomfortable and hot around the collar. But perhaps that’s just the supposedly “uncool” lemming/supporter in me who happens to think this band is special. I don’t need the Dead Weather to convince me that they are reinventing blues rock or blues punk or any of the tired boxes they have been placed in. What I do know is that this band makes me believe several things, the most notable of which is that they are having a great time. The rest of it, the pop-up shops, the Third Man Vault, the incessant Internet bitching about “Dead MEHther” is ancillary to the fact that this band (however temporary they may or may not be) made an exciting, remarkable debut with Horehound.

The chemistry between White, Mosshart, Dean Fertita (of Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (of the Raconteurs) is undeniable. At times it was explosive, and potentially overreaching; but for most of their balls-out performance, it was utterly thrilling.

Set opener “60 Feet Tall” had a dirty groove that set a perfect tone for the evening; Mosshart’s ferocious wails, Lawrence’s tight bass – everything worked. A solo White took stage front for a sentimental cover of Van Morrison’s “You Just Can’t Win” which led into a slow-burning, stormy rendition of “So Far From Your Weapon.”

“I Cut Like a Buffalo,” which White claims to be one of the most personal songs he’s ever written was manic and raucous, but the true standout of the main set was current single “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” lately benefitting from the Jonathan Glazer-directed video’s debut on Cinemax and its decidedly bloody take on the song’s Oedipal tease and sleaze. It was filthy and Mosshart’s vicious delivery likely scared the balls off plenty of aroused men in attendance. Fertita’s ace dirge and purge on guitar was equally as cathartic. (As a sidebar, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that Fertita is the unsung hero of this band.)

“Will There Be Enough Water?” elicited the most screams of the night due to White and Mosshart’s combustible microphone sex, and it’s extended, if not understated, blues scorch fest. It was the perfect bruiser (and soulful) moment that likely sealed the deal and ended some arguments about the band’s legitimacy.

“Hang You From the Heavens” and “New Pony” (a Bob Dylan cover turned on its head thanks to Mosshart on lead vox) were fantastic as set closers, but nearly sounded too close to note-by-note album versions, an observation I heard whispered several times throughout the show. With a band as pedigreed and capable as Dead Weather, more risks should be taken with solos, jams and improvisations. They can certainly handle it, and as the foursome tightens up on the road, hopefully we’ll see more personality and willingness to let go beyond promotional dive-bar performances.

Let’s call down some lightning and thunder, folks, not just thunderheads and dark clouds rolling in.


Caustic trio Screaming Females of New Brunswick, New Jersey, opened and kicked out the jams with quick and dirty punk songs, and hard-charging axe work from a little dynamo called Marissa Paternoster, who, just in her early twenties is so frighteningly precise and outrageously talented, that everyone should write down her name in pen immediately and get on line now. She’ll melt your face off and (probably) hug you afterwards. Hallelujah.

–Carrie Alison

  1. Great review, Carrie. While I cannot say it was like being there — I don’t have any soiled Levis or weak knees to make that testimonial — this is a passionate retelling of what sounds like a smoking show. Sadly, I will miss the Nashville gig, but I am sending an agent and representative on my behalf.


  2. [...] a recent tour with The Dead Weather. More on our thoughts on New Brunswick’s brightest right here. Additionally, if you happen to be in New York City for the 2009 CMJ Music Marathon and Film [...]