Photos by Roman Gokhman
Long before the earth rattled all of the Bay Area in the wee hours of Sunday, Jack White shook the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on the second of two nights on his brief stop through the area.
Maybe it’s a coincidence that the Oakland Athletics won the World Series the last time such a big quake made its presence felt. But perhaps it was a sign. White even dedicated a cover of cLOUDDEAD’s “Dead Dogs Two to the A’s.” If it was a sarcastic dedication by the Detroit Tigers’ fan, Mother Nature did not approve.
The sold-out crowd approved greatly of White’s nearly two-hour-long set, which, according to reports, varied significantly from the first night due to a severely sprained ankle he suffered at the very end of that show. Rumor is this show was nearly cancelled at the urging of White’s team, yet he powered through a diverse set of his own songs, that of the White Stripes, The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, and a few covers that also included Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression,” the Police’s “Message In a Bottle,” and even a Dangermouse cut.
While the first night — reportedly — gained from a more intense energy from a frenetic White, the second offered a more varied representation of White’s catalog: Garage rock, alt-country and the blues.
White’s five-piece band, which currently includes members of both his male and female backing bands, took the stage to a sea of heavy blue lighting that lingered for the duration of the performance. The stage instrumentation and design, which included such oddities as a Theremin – an electronic musical saw – and what is possibly the world’s smallest live performance video screen (a ‘50’s style TV set that projected only sound waves) exuded a monochromatic memory one would hang on a wall. An added benefit of the lighting was the mirage that the show was happening outdoors.
Because he was unable to bounce around the stage as much, and even limped around a bit, White was able to show off his softer side on songs like “We’re Going To Be Friends,” a proper back-to-school reminder, with classroom bells getting primed throughout the Bay Area. He also had time to propose to, apparently, all of the women in the audience.
“Do any of you ladies want to get married tonight?” he asked, leading some to presume two fans were about to get a treat. “I don’t think you understand. Do any of you ladies want to get married to me tonight?”