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Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeWith the mounted heads of big game animals adorning the sides of the stage and the image of a giant eyeball on the backdrop, Nashville-based supergroup The Dead Weather, touring in support of their sophomore release Sea of Cowards, created a dark gothic vibe even before a single note was played for the Rave audience.
Dimly lit, the band opened with the ominous "60 Feet Tall" from their debut album, Horehound, as lead singer Alison Mosshart (of The Kills) rolled up her sleeves and went to work, adding intensity to every thud Jack White (of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs) laid down on drums. "Hang You From The Heavens" followed suit in intensity, with the gut-busting punch of rhythm, braced by bassist Jack Lawrence (of The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes), fueling Dean Fertita (of Queens of the Stone Age) to unleash a barrage of meaty, analog-driven effects.
Stepping out from behind the drums to sing lead on a cover of Van Morrison's "You Just Can't Win," White strolled about the stage with a commanding and slyly sardonic aplomb, and the crowd roared in approval as he played the part of an animated storyteller. Returning to the drums, White and company pulled back on the reins as Mosshart stomped up a fury of emotion in the bluesy "So Far From Your Weapon," before the band collectively cracked the whip on "I Cut Like A Buffalo."
Dipping into the new material six songs in, "No Horse," "The Difference Between Us" and "I'm Mad" featured White seemingly effortlessly switching between drums and guitar and Fertita and Lawrence displaying similar multi-instument talent. All the while, Mosshart and White increasingly fed off of each other's intensity. Building up to a hip-breaking strut through "Die By The Drop," "Gasoline" and "Hustle and Cuss," the band turned down the heat after an amped up rendition of Dylan's "New Pony" and delivered the most striking moment of the evening in a set-ending, and almost chilling, "Will There Be Enough Water?," with Mosshart and White sharing a mic at the front of the stage.
In an encore with the loose grit of "Blue Blood Blues" and shrill peaks of "I Can't Hear You" leading the way, the new material seemed to fit perfectly in place alongside the more precise and pointed earlier work as the band dispensed with the rest of the fuel in their tank for the older "Treat Me Like Your Mother" to end a truly blistering and inspired evening.
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