Until last night, myself and many others thought we would have to wait until July 24th to see the band at the Garden. That is not a complaint by any means - how could it be. But when I heard of a "secret" more intimate gig in the mix - I waited patiently for where and when.
Last night, Irving Plaza.
Jack's wife's band, CITIZENS BAND, opened the gig with a performance that mixed Rocky Horror, Hairspray and Into the Woods. All sorts of costumes, bubbles, climbing from a robe going on - certainly fun to watch and look at.
Big red velvet back drop. Red lights on.
As usual, a simple yet powerful entrance and plunge right into the first chord. "When I Hear My Name" from their first record. Crowd completely ignited. Then right into"Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," with Jack now switching off playing the piano and guitar - and sometimes simultaneously. Impossible? Have you seen Jack White perform? There is none else.
Meg was looking wonderful as ever. Red shirt, black pants and barefoot sitting and shaking on her white drum throne with "Meg" in red letters in the back. Smiling with that shy look waiting for Jack's next command. Jack in red shirt and pants and black shoes looking very much like the first time I saw them in April 2002 at the Bowery Ballroom.
Meg's drum kit is red sparkle with the candy canes on her drumheads. Still slams with those long sticks with red tape at the ends. Jack rotating his guitars every song. The classic Airline, the slide, a beautiful white acoustic with red glitter. As usual, many mics on stage all with different effects. The one in front of Meg's kit that Jack runs over often in mid song has the loud distortion. In addition, there was a mic stand in between Jack and Meg at the front of the stage that had 2 mics on the top of it. One was on in the right side of the house, and one was on in the left. Think listening to your Walkman in 1983 and playing with the balance button. Mic stands were red with white cords wrapped around.
"Doorbell" began next and the place was jumping - literally. Clearly a big hit that got the kids of all ages and geographies excited. Jack lost the guitar for this track and played a beautiful Gibson red bass. It was ugly as hell. It ruled. Meg did this tune with small tambourines on her drumsticks. During Dolly Parton's "Jolene" Jack stopped to introduce himself and "his big sister Meg" then did not play the rest of the song. Just went right into "Hotel Yorba". White lights came on as we all sang "well it's 1-2-3-4..."
"I think I Smell a Rat" was next with a long delayed intro by Jack. And then what I found to be incredibly touching, "Apple Blossom" and Jack let the crowd sing most of the tune. I was impressed with the kids at this point. Soon the long awaited "Meg" moment - "In the Cold Cold Night" where Meg took center stage in a red light and sang and made us all cold. She did a few bars on the piano as well before Jack came back and joined her center stage.
Other classics "Union Forever" and "Astro" and then a tune I love and was just listening to earlier in the day and wondered if I would hear it - "I got you in my pocket" which once again proved what a heartfelt soulful bluesy beautiful set of vocal chords Jack White has. He is a machine. Watching him live is like watching a building being built. He commands an army even though there is only 2 on stage. Screaming at Meg mid song as usual for encouragement and confirmation. It is simply wonderful to watch. Just when you think he is caught up in his piano and 1950's style hanging mic, all of a sudden he turns to Meg as she is just kicking the bass drum and he points and nods in agreement - like, Yes, do that...do that now.
Came back for the Encores that included "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," "Ball and Biscuit" and their classic cover closer "Boll Weevil"
The merch stand rules as usual - I walked away with their new record "Icky Thump" on a double LP, a neat white and red slip Stripes slip cover for my turntable and lastly, as if the evening wasn't fun enough - large peppermint striped candy canes that say White Stripes in the middle throughout the entire stick.
There are very little experiences like this one. They had me in their pocket last night. Thanks to the sibling Whites!! My ears are still ringing today and my peppermint stick after many licks is still here!!!
Photos By Drew Goldberg