Live Review

Les Eurockéennes: Day Three

The calm after the storm. Except it’s not the calm really, it’s the day everyone at the festival’s been talking about.

The calm after the storm. Except it’s not the calm really, it’s the day everyone at the festival’s been talking about whether we’ve been able to understand them or not. See, whenever they’ve been asked about who they’re most looking forward to see, it’s been just one name falling from their lips. Jack White.

Before his set, however, there’s a day full of appearances and a field full of mud to get through. Mud. Wet, soggy, strangely pinkish mud. There are all kinds of clever contraptions on show: plastic bags for socks, plastic bags for flares, plastic bags for ponchos. The Brian Jonestown Massacre opt to close their set with a version of ‘Straight Up And Down’ that veers in and out of both ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and ‘Hey Jude. The latter of these just about lifts the soggy audience out of a shivering coma as they clutch their umbrella / beer / delete as appopriate.

And yes, there’s a lot of sensible rain wear on display. While back in the UK festival-goers might be brandishing lurid wellies, comedy ponchos or going all-out and donning as little as possible, it’s a sea of navy blue and racing green. A fact that hasn’t passed Refused vocalist Dennis Lyxzén by, as he takes time from thrashing about the Esplanade Green Room stage and leaping off self-built monitor stacks to admonish the crowd for ‘not looking punk enough’.

Over on the main stage, there’s no threat of such interaction from Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard making a point of thanking the audience approximately twenty-three times (we made this up) during their set. It’s a smaller crowd than expected for the band, although that may have some small relation to the fact a certain Miss Del Rey is performing over on La Plage at the same time. Brittany and co are the perfect warm-up to Jack White’s later performance, their mixture of rock ‘n roll, Americana and garage rock working seamlessly with their frontwoman’s stunning vocals.

It’s the girls tonight for Jack White (we’re reliably informed the boys were dancing throughout at the side of the stage, still in uniform), and their ghostly presence, all decked out in regulation powder blue, suits the ominous skies; part dark cloud, part bright red sunset. Opening with single and ‘Blunderbuss’ highlight ‘Sixteen Saltines’, the setlist begins much as expected: part solo, part White Stripes with added bells on – there’s time for the super-countrified ‘Hotel Yorba’. Then a strange bang after the first few notes of ‘We’re Going To Be Friends’ and the power’s cut. While the suited technicians run to fix it, Jack’s continuing to perform the song solo, despite only the first few rows being able to hear, the rest of us relying on lip-reading from the giant screens.

On the band’s return, things feel to go up a gear – ‘Blue Blood Blues’ gets ‘Screwdriver”s intro and is quickly followed by ‘The Hardest Button To Button’. ‘Cannon’ features in The Raconteurs’ ‘Steady As She Goes’. ‘Ball And Biscuit’ makes an appearance. As, inevitably, does ‘Seven Nation Army’, the riff of which is, according to social media feeds, badly soundtracking a rather important football match taking place concurrently a few hundred miles east.

And that’s where we leave the luscious – albeit muddy and depleted – surroundings of Malsaucy, soggy and tired, full of Dutch beer and French cheese, and resisting all urge to sing along with the football-esque crowds following Jack White’s triumphant exit. À bientôt.

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