Jack White secret gig at Glastonbury 2022 review – an hour of face-melting rock delirium

Park stage
The rocker stuns a huge crowd at the festival’s Park stage with an eclectic set taken from across his career, then sends them away chanting Seven Nation Army in unison

Is it even Glastonbury if Jack White doesn’t make an appearance somewhere? I’ve seen him duet sultrily with Alison Mosshart in the Dead Weather, he played here twice with the White Stripes and once with the Raconteurs, he’s guest-appeared on other people’s stages, and played his own eclectic solo sets to appreciative rockers. This year he turned up at the Park stage for a secret set – though, as ever, it was an open secret. By the time the soundcheck was emitting random blasts of synthesised organ in advance of his appearance – there was a statue on stage which may well have been of him, I wouldn’t be surprised – the massed crowds were so formidable that they had to close the area. Those who made it up the hill found that it was worth the trek, though. White delivered an hour of face-melting rock delirium with barely a break between songs.

When he runs on stage – blue hair, blue guitar, pale make-up – he roars straight into the fat opening notes of Taking Me Back, opener to this year’s album Fear of the Dawn. I wondered if the set would consist mostly of that record’s mildly deranged circus-rock but it encompasses killer songs from his entire career, and he has a lot of them. The next song is Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground from the White Stripes era, then it’s straight into Love Interruption, from 2012: “I want love to change my friends to enemies, show me how it’s all my fault.” The transitions are seamless, each song devolving into noise and wild guitar soloing from White before he breaks out the next huge riff. His guitar screams and crunches, the bass rattles ribcages, the drums thunder – for the first few songs the crowd seems almost stunned by the noise.

Jack White at Glastonbury 26 June 2022.

Mid-set Jack stops for just a moment to tell us that he’s about to play a song he wrote two and a half days ago (“I don’t remember the name of it”) which turns out be be a country-ish ballad about the frustration of loving someone, sung (relatively) softly over bluesy fingerpicking. But then it’s straight back into Hotel Yorba, also a White Stripes song, its fun bouncy rhythm getting the crowd yelling and jumping along. I Cut Like a Buffalo – the best Dead Weather song – comes in next with its stabby vocal and sick funky bassline. He just throws these songs out, embellishing them with an extended solo here, a wild breakdown there. When he plays songs from across his career like this, you really notice his vocal range, from shouty rock star to tremulous blues singer to southern drawl.

The crowd is with Jack White throughout, but the closing two songs send everyone into a kind of mad roiling frenzy. He breaks out the Raconteurs’ You Don’t Understand me towards the end, but it’s Steady As She Goes that properly rocks, the crowd screaming “Are you steady now” back at White at his invitation, a blistering new solo spliced into the middle. The closer is, of course, Seven Nation Army, a song that football crowds and drunk people in city centres at 3am should surely have ruined, but which is just too good. Thousands of people jump and sing along to that riff in unison and it infects the whole festival site; I hear it echoed for hours afterwards. We haven’t got many rock artists more prolific or professional.


Keza MacDonald

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jack White at Glastonbury 2014 review
White starts with an onslaught of sound, but his set loses focus as song after song dissolves into an extended jam, writes Rebecca Nicholson

Rebecca Nicholson

28, Jun, 2014 @8:24 PM

Article image
Billie Eilish at Glastonbury 2022: pyrotechnic pop packs a punch
The Pyramid stage’s youngest ever headliner looks entirely at home, giving an imperious, hugely engaging performance

Alexis Petridis

24, Jun, 2022 @11:54 PM

Article image
Paul McCartney at Glastonbury 2022 review: Springsteen, Grohl and a euphoric trip through time
Playing well over two hours at the age of 80, McCartney visits some curious corners of his back catalogue – but the big hits are about as thrilling as live pop music gets

Alexis Petridis

26, Jun, 2022 @9:54 AM

Article image
Sam Fender at Glastonbury 2022 review – unforgettable emotional release
Fender is cemented as a major British star with a performance of huge anger and power – with Seventeen Going Under one of the greatest songs this stage has seen

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

24, Jun, 2022 @9:45 PM

Article image
Ukrainian techno, UK drill and Tony Christie: 30 acts not to miss at Glastonbury 2022
Whether it’s Kendrick Lamar’s hugely anticipated headline slot, soul music singalongs or late night DJ sets, here are our picks from the hundreds of acts playing Glastonbury

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

21, Jun, 2022 @2:39 PM

Article image
Olivia Rodrigo review – a thrilling, furious Glastonbury moment
The Drivers License singer relishes the energy of the festival crowd for her pop-punk set, electrified by guest Lily Allen for a rendition of Fuck You dedicated to the US supreme court

Laura Snapes

25, Jun, 2022 @8:45 PM

Article image
Sunday at Glastonbury: Kendrick Lamar, Diana Ross and Jack White – as it happened
The US rap star headlined the main stage on the last night of the festival, while Pet Shop Boys, Charli XCX, Jarvis Cocker and a host more brought the festival to a close

Keza MacDonald (now), Ben Beaumont-Thomas, Gwilym Mumford and Laura Snapes (earlier)

26, Jun, 2022 @11:49 PM

Article image
Kendrick Lamar at Glastonbury 2022 review – faith, fury and jawdropping brilliance
Sporting a bejewelled crown of thorns and with a profound sense of theatre, Lamar proves he is one of the most gifted rappers we have

Alexis Petridis

26, Jun, 2022 @11:32 PM

Article image
Glastonbury 2014: Metallica, Pixies and Jack White – as it happened
Exit light! Enter night! Take my hand! We're off to Guardian liveblog land! Yes, we're in front of the TV for the second night of Glastonbury and we're making devil's horns

Michael Hann and Hannah Jane Parkinson

29, Jun, 2014 @12:09 AM

Article image
Post your questions for Sleaford Mods at Glastonbury
This year, the Guardian is interviewing artists live on stage – and we want your questions for them, beginning with the acerbic, chart-bothering Nottingham duo

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

14, Jun, 2022 @11:50 AM