Well, that was nothing short of amazing. We obviously were expecting a lot out of Wanda Jackson and The Third Man House Band — we doubt that Jack White even knows what "half-assed" is, and our tattered, worn-out Wanda Jackson albums will attest to how much we love her output — but Tuesday night was something else entirely. We showed up thinking we were going to see a rock ’n’ roll show, but what we got was more like a family reunion — distant cousins and scattered relations all assembled to show love for the matriarch of an entire subculture — and it was beautiful. Ms. Jackson is a true pioneer whose catalog stands unblemished by the sands of time, and it was incredible to see her with the band and the audience that she deserves.
Opening act The Thornbills were quite the surprise. We usually wouldn't expect them to be our thing — we'll admit that our first instinct when we see an acoustic guitar and an autoharp is to run for the hills and make a fort out of G.G. Allin records — but damn if we weren't rapt with awe for the entire set. Maybe it's because their baroque-ish, Slavic-esque boy-girl art-folk is so hard to nail down — the only comparison we could really think of was Pentangle meets a well-adjusted mid-’80s Mekons, which isn't even close — and any music that doesn't present an easily hyphenated adjective totally intrigues us. The Thornbills moved straight to the top of our "new hotness" list. Keep an eye out for those kids — they're going places!
The main event was just that — an event. The stage was crammed with the 10-member Third Man House Band — drums, bass, guitar, organ, steel, two back-up singers and a three-piece horn section — plus Mr. White and Ms. Jackson. That's six times the members in the White stripes, for those of you keeping score at home. Like we, said this was an event. Well yes, every time there's a show at The World's Greatest Secret Clubhouse it's an event, but this was like a cosmic event, with moons aligning and the music gods smiling on our city for bringing things full circle. The energy in the crowd was palpable, the band looked super stoked to be there and the star of the evening was elated. It was incredible.
Also, funny as all get-out. The rapport between White and Jackson is a sight to behold — if the music thing doesn't work out, they can definitely hit the road with their comedy act. Jackson is a firecracker with machine gun wit, and her sorta-gentle ribbing of one of rock's biggest stars was worth the price of admission alone. The interplay between the two was such a joy to watch — these two have an enormous and obvious respect for each other — that we were half expecting her to spit on her thumb and rub dirt off his face, the way your mom always seems to do when you're trying to impress people.
And the music? Nothing short of incredible. We fell in love with Jackson's new record, the White-produced The Party Ain't Over, after about, oh, 10 seconds of listening, so we had pretty high expectations. We were not disappointed. Featuring a bunch of tracks from the new album — the Amy Winehouse cover “You Know That I'm No Good,” funky gospel number “Dust on The Bible,” Jimmie Rodgers' “Blue Yodel #6” — alongside stone cold classics from her back catalog like “Fujiyama Mama,” Let's Have a Party,” a version of “Right or Wrong” that brought literal, actual, physical tears to our eyes — this was as close to our dream setlist as we could ask for. All hail the Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll!