Jack White, Kentish Town Forum, London
New Order, O2 Apollo, Manchester

No one loves a side project like Jack White. But now that he's gone solo, the blues-rock maestro can, finally, do what he does best: shred that guitar

David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust follows the tragic trajectory of a charismatic rocker who emerged from the pack and "became the special man". Jack White has always been "the special man". And that's why nobody wants to see him pretending Brendan Benson is his equal in The Raconteurs, or giving the girl out of The Kills a leg-up in Dead Weather – or any of that pseudo-modest, Tin Machine nonsense.

The White Stripes were exceptional. There's a lot of sexist crap talked about Meg White: as a drummer in a primitivist blues-rock duo, she was as good as she needed to be. Furthermore, the dynamic between the pair was extraordinary. As we found out almost immediately, the titillating façade of incest – Jack sparking off the sexual chemistry with his own "big sister" – was calculated to hide a reality that was even more torrid and screwed-up: an ex-husband and wife performing emotionally charged songs of love and hate, face to face, four feet apart.

Now he's solo, Jack is unquestionably the boss man. With power comes responsibility, and Jack is forced to front up to his audience and do something he's never been particularly comfortable with: interaction. "Are you still feeling good?" is about as warm as it gets.

Backed by an all-female band, The Peacocks, White, with his wind-blown Flymo bob, looks like a Southern gothic scarecrow as he peppers material from his solo debut Blunderbuss with excerpts from the Stripes' canon. Opener "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" is a fine way to slay any crowd. "Hotel Yorba" is introduced as "an old country song" and, augmented with Lillie Mae Rische's Nashville-style fiddles and sped up to double-time, he has a point. I would kill for an "Astro" or a "Hello Operator", but greed isn't good.

The Peacocks may add nuance and layers, notably on "Two Against One" from Rome, the marvellous spaghetti-classical collaboration with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi. And you'd need to be blind not to notice the chemistry between White and backing singer Ruby Amanfu on the Fleetwood Mac-like duet "Love Interruption" and the White Stripes' "My Doorbell".

But White is at his best at his most brutal. The goosebump moments always come when he signals to his sextet to shut up, and shreds the living hell out of his sky-blue Telecaster. To paraphrase Bowie again, "boy, can he play guitar".

New Order are halfway through "Regret", their third song, when a full pint of beer traces a parabola through the Manchester air and crashes at the feet of Tom Chapman, the band's new bassist. There has always been a lager-lad element to their fanbase, but this wasn't random hi-jinx. This time, one feels, it was personal. Chapman is visibly rattled, and, as the song ends, frontman Bernard Sumner, he of the Spitfire pilot hair, takes over. "We're here to have a party, aren't we?"

There are some, clearly, for whom New Order without Peter Hook isn't New Order. One of them, clearly, is Peter Hook himself, who unilaterally declared the end of New Order in 2007, much to the surprise of his bandmates, leading to an ugly and public war of words. But if this group packed it in every time they lost a member, we'd have been denied three decades of existential tech-pop magnificence. There's no "i" in "team", and there's no Peter Hook in New Order. Fine.

Of course, there are many who go further, who see it as heretical to prefer New Order to Joy Division, as if you are dancing on Ian Curtis's grave. So, sue me. To please the Curtis hardcore – or, perhaps, to disgust them – the setlist of New Order's first Manchester show in a decade includes an all Joy Division encore of "Transmission", and "Love Will Tear Us Apart". For the rest of us, there are flashes of the sublime that only New Order can achieve.

Yes, there's dad-dancing from Bernard. Yes, there's superfluous whooping. Yes, there are moments when you wish the once-reserved Sumner would exert a little ... what's the word? Control.

But when green lasers are slashing the air and New Order are playing "Bizarre Love Triangle", "Temptation", "Ceremony" or "Perfect Kiss" – oh my god, especially "Perfect Kiss" – in front of a hometown crowd, there's no place you'd rather be.

Critic's choice

Dexys (no longer Midnight Runners), with One Day I'm Going To Soar – their first album in 27 years – make a long-awaited live return in the unlikely environs of Parc & Dare Theatre, Treorchy (Fri), with further dates the following week. Meanwhile, The Camden Crawl brings Glasvegas, The Futureheads and Niki & The Dove to various venues in London NW1 (Fri, Sat, Sun).

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all