Jack White in Berlin: A smartphone ban does not make a good concert yet

Jack White wants to offer his concertgoers a "100 percent human experience" and lets cell phones arrive before they start. It does not matter – this show is not memorable.

       Concert review by Volker Bernhard, Berlin



    There are many ways to spend a Friday night in Berlin. One of the more daring options is certainly the visit of a former fallow on Warschauer Straße, between the Spree and S-Bahn, right next to the East Side Gallery. There will be another piece of new Berlin completed these days: In addition to architecturally questionable office buildings, the Mercedes-Benz Arena and a shopping mall, the Mercedes place probably "vitalize" the area, as it is called beautiful. Rooftop bars, bowling alley, luxury cinema and slick restaurants included.


    In the middle of this lifeless city prop stands the Verti Music Hall. The new event location, where this Friday evening the concert of the American musician Jack White takes place, fittingly reminds of an impressive donut factory. Shortly before the official start, a line of people curls up in front of the hall on the Mercedes square, on screens, among other things, the Strippertruppe Chippendales is advertised. Visually, visitors wrap their smartphones in pouches that are magnetically sealed to make the concert a "100 percent human experience," as Jack White announced before the tour.

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Inside, black industrial lamps and bare concrete testify to zeitgeist randomness, yet they are as sophisticated as the combi-special, with which you can enhance your snacks (popcorn, pretzels or nachos). With a drink or whatever, maybe a plectrum or a disposable lighter from the merchandise stand. Probably not, but that would be an innovation. These are actually on stage – if Jack White preferred to stay with what he does well. Instead of preserving the reduced-rough and childlike power of the White Stripes, the vocalist falls into the frame of a grandmaster who, with the help of two synthesizer players, tinkers each idea with set pieces of other styles until it reaches a maximum of arbitrariness.


    "Hotel Yorba" degenerates to the greasy country number


    Various samples and e-drums are supposed to open horizons, but they are used so directionless that it seems appealing at best. Even some old treasures, of which less is played today than at other concerts, find their way through the wolf: "Hotel Yorba", for example, is so slurred by a bar piano that it turns into a greasy country number.


    The euphoria of the concertgoers, who are probably mostly because of these old numbers and less because of White's new album, is rather subdued. Despite big free time from the smartphone. In any case, only diehard fans and those who really want to become really fun seem to have fun. For "The Hardest Button to Button", Jack White gets ready for a second drum set. The relentless rumbling and stuttering of the drums reminds for a moment of the urgency of the White Stripes. But as soon as the two synthesizers come in, the question marks return.


    As soon as you leave the concert hall for a short breather, some screens present suitable hashtags for the event. To use them, of course, would need the gedetütete smartphone – and indeed provide equipped with large magnets hall employees to unlock their own mobile phone. Surprisingly, the magnets remain unused until the end of the event. Should it really be so easy to stop the digital friend and helper with some bags and some medial bohei?


    With the last song "Seven Nation Army" the synth torment will come to an end. But one hardly thinks oneself in freedom, water fountains and light show in front of the hall ever practice for their big appearance on the neighborhood party. On the website of the Mercedes place a woman shines in Konfettiregen the user, the claim promises: "It's Always Friday". Please do not.

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