Even with all its crunchy, bombastic, full-volume songs and rock-star poses, the Dead Weather's Twin Cities debut Monday drew the biggest applause with one of the simplest gestures: when Jack White nonchalantly strapped on a guitar right before the encore -- the one and only time.
No question, the White Stripes frontman was the main attraction in the 70-minute performance at First Avenue. No surprise, either. White is the reason the Dead Weather became an immediate buzz band this summer and almost immediately sold out its Minneapolis date, even though he has more of a back-seat role in this new indie-rock supergroup, mostly playing drums.
White's bandmates tried to match his shine, and that became a problem. They overdid it by quite a bit. Musically, the show was about half-great, but the lesser half seemed to fall even flatter with the group's hyped-up delivery.
Frontwoman Alison Mosshart, who naturally absorbs the spotlight in her main band the Kills, climbed almost every piece of P.A. equipment onstage in an apparent attempt to all too literally tower above her bandmates -- although the antic did make perfect sense in the opener, "60 Feet Tall."
Guitarist Dean Fertita, from Queens of the Stone Age, flaunted his way between guitar and Deep Purple-shaded organ like he was some kind of prog-rock genius. Even bassist Jack Lawrence showed more pizazz than he does in White's first "other band," the Raconteurs.
The quartet played all but one track off its two-week-old album, "Horehound," culminating in the encore with its devilish cover of Bob Dylan's "New Pony." That one and the pre-encore finale, "Will There Be Enough Water?" -- in which White and Mosshart built from a soft purr to a mighty howl on the same mike -- were the high points of the show.
At its best, the Dead Weather echoed the one band that permeates all of White's projects: Led Zeppelin, but with a grungy, grimy, Southern Gothic twist. At its least impressive, the group channeled "The Addams Family" and Alice Cooper under creepy blacklight stage lights.
The three other covers that filled in the set list seemed to be all about facilitating this dark side, obscure tracks by '70s metal band Pentagram and late-'60s Los Angeles act the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, plus Van Morrison and Them's bluesy nugget "You Just Can't Win." Kudos to White for having a cool record collection, but please bring more of your own would-be classics next time.
See the Dead Weather's set list at startribune.com/poplife.
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