The Dead Weather + Creature With The Atom Brain @ Birmingham Academy – 26th October 2009


The support for tonight’s gig is Creature With The Atom Brain, a Belgian alternative rock band who apparently make fuzz inspired music with a “generous helping of weird”. From the last track, this description appears to hit the nail on the head so to speak, and I am disappointed not to have caught their whole set. However, after only minimal exposure to their music I intend to investigate the band further and they seem to be a sensible choice as the support for The Dead Weather.


This is my first outing to the newly opened O2 Academy, of which I hold great hopes and no doubt tonight’s gig will show the sound capabilities of the venue. The Dead Weather were recently classed, by Jools Holland, as a supergroup consisting of The Kills vocalist Alison Mosshart, Jack White, Dean Fertita from QOTSA and Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs which have produced, in my opinion, one of the most interesting albums of the year so far, Horehound. Furthermore, after seeing them on the aforementioned Late Show with Jools Holland, I have high expectations for the show.


As the light’s go down, an immense wall of feedback in unleashed upon the crowd and the band take to the stage led by the volcanic eruption that is Mosshart. She enters the stage with such vigour, leaving no question in your mind that she intends to blow your brains out with intensity and enthusiasm, starting with the album’s opening track, 60 Feet Tall. Mosshart is all over the monitors, strutting up and down the stage, posing for the photographers whilst belting the lyrics out with such passion; causing me to question the last time I saw an artist begin a show with so much dynamism. The fuzzed out garage rock with its laid back groove is incredibly loud and has the crowd embracing every beat. This continues into the next song which is their first single, Hang You From The Heavens, displaying White’s ability to construct a creative and infectious drum line which is supported effectively by the use of keyboards.


The next couple of tracks are covers, Pentagram’s Forever My Queen and You Just Can’t Win by Them, both of which The Dead Weather claim as their own; however it does seem slightly disconcerting to see Jack White singing without an instrument and his body language displays a level of awkwardness which vanishes as soon as he returns to the drums. Returning to their own work, the band continue with So Far From Your Weapon presenting a dark, grittiness which is enhanced by vocal harmonics and a contrived ease into each beat which is fantastic. This is followed by Bone House and up till now all the songs have led on from one another with a certain flow, however this is broken by No Horse which doesn’t seem to quite fit into the set at the right point, yet, halfway through the track it is forgotten as the band unleash a belter.


At no point in the set does Mosshart’s energy wane or lyrical abilities fail, and they are complimented further when she shares vocals with White, most noticeably in Rocking Horse. After No Hassle Night, The Dead Weather play a cover of Dylan’s New Pony which again, controversially, they conquer and turn into one of the best songs of the night. Jawbreaker and Will There Be Enough Water? bring the set to a close; yet the audience know full well they will return as there are some key tracks missing from the set. And, as anticipated and through vast applause, The Dead Weather resume business as usual with the reggae inspired I Cut Like A Buffalo proceeded by I Can’t Hear You. The last track of the night is Treat Me Like Your Mother, which is crazily catchy and, understandably, sends the majority of the crowd into a heated frenzy.

As The Dead Weather leave the stage, I am left feeling truly envious of the power of their performance, Mosshart in particular, and their ability to write such great yet varied songs.

Review – Toni Woodward
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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