Jack White left his Radio City Music Hall audience confused and angry on Saturday night when he abruptly left the stage and ended the show after only playing for about 55 minutes.
Over the short course of a 12-song set backed by his all-male band, White stuck mostly to his new material with high-energy takes on “Sixteen Saltines” and “Hypocritical Kiss,” plus four White Stripes songs; he sprinted to the piano for a new version of “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” and strapped on his Telecaster for an epic “Ball and Biscuit.” Despite the crowd’s visible enthusiasm, White seemed displeased with its energy level. “Jesus Christ, is this an NPR convention?” he asked after “Love Interruption” – a perplexing statement, since the entire floor was standing and cheering. (Later, he asked the crowd to quiet down, “because I can’t hear myself think.” They cheered anyway.) White regularly eggs on his crowds with sarcastic banter. At one point, he also suggested performing the rest of the show acoustically, which he joked only ten percent of fans would want.
Soon afterward, White made a short announcement before leaving the stage, leaving some fans wondering if it was just an intermission (maybe he’d be returning with his all-female band?) or a ploy for encore hype. The audience stuck around for several minutes after White’s disappearance, expecting him to return even as roadies emerged to unplug instruments and shut off the amps. The waiting crowd broke into a “Seven Nation Army” singalong, but once the curtain went down, the song quickly devolved into booing and some shouting of “Fuck Jack White.”
According to the New York Observer, the ushers at the concert seemed equally mystified by its early ending, and a member of the security team later offered an explanation to the reporter. “He wasn’t happy with the sound,” he said. “I don’t know why he pulled that.” The paper also noted that White had several “angry exchanges” with a shirtless fan in the front row who was removed by security.
After clearing the auditorium, a loud and disgruntled crowd of about 100 fans reportedly gathered outside the venue near the main backstage exit, banging on parked cars.