Jack White’s marriage at premiere show leaves Detroit fans disappointed


Credit: Raph_PH on Flickr

Jack White at Rock Werchter in 2018. Since this concert White has adopted short, blue hair and some vanity to boot.

Hollis Masterson, Staff Writer


The inside of Detroit’s famous Masonic Temple Theater is aglow with blue, the color that has followed Jack White in all his solo album’s covers and currently in his hair as well. Jack White had just finished playing the bluesy “Ball and Biscuit,” which he dedicated to Meg White, his first wife and former bandmate in The White Stripes. 

After the song, White picks up one of his teal-colored electric/acoustic guitars to play The White Stripes song “Hotel Yorba” and calls Olivia Jean, the show opener to the stage to join him to sing as a duo. 

About halfway through the song, Jack breaks from the lyrics to ask Olivia how she is doing while they strummed the song. Then White got down on one knee and asked for Olivia’s hand in marriage, while Olivia, and the rest of the audience took a collective gasp. 

They wrapped up the song with Olivia crying and Jack smiling . Both performers left the stage for a brief moment and re-entered with a Universal Life Church minister and married right there, onstage in front of a live audience.

Jack White was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1975 and played in multiple bands as a teenager. His main style of playing is derived from Mississippi Delta blues which complemented Meg White’s powerful drumming. They formed the White Stripes in 1996 after Jack White married her and took her last name.

The White Stripes had a successful run from 1998 until 2011, earning themselves several billboard chart toppers for albums and songs as well as the 2004 Grammy for Best Rock Song for “Seven Nation Army.”

Despite their success, after a long period of absence from the stage from 2008 to 2011, the White Stripes announced on the White Stripes website that they were no longer going to perform together due to a “myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band.”

Jack White would go on to work with several artists including Dead Weather, the Raconteurs, and Alicia Keys. However most of Jack White’s work would be on his own after the White Stripes broke up. He formed Third Man Records in Nashville, TN as his own label to help other artists and collaborators including Olivia Jean. He has released several solo albums and gone on multiple tours over the last 11 years.

When COVID-19 struck, Jack White went into isolation to work on his most recent album “Fear of the Dawn.” The album dropped on April 8, the same day as his opening show at the Masonic Temple and received fairly good reviews from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, keeping to his consistent 4-star record. This is a pretty good album with a lot of funky tones as well as hard, fast rock.

The Masonic Temple where Jack White played his first two shows of the “Supply Chain Issues” world tour, is an impressive building and the theater has incredible acoustics as it was built to make sure no sound is lost. White has a lot of history with this temple. When it was set to foreclose in 2013, White made an anonymous $142,000 donation to save the Temple and in return the temple’s theater was renamed the Jack White Theater according to Rolling Stone

The debut show was sold out, and most of the crowd was a mix of millennials and Gen Z’ers who most likely grew up listening to the White Stripes or Jack White’s solo work. Based on the appearance of the crowd, there was a lot of happiness and excitement amongst everyone being his first tour performance in four years. 

The set was quite incredible with a circus-like appearance of blue curtains and a hexagonal base. The oddity on stage was a white statue of Jack White with a ukulele that stood silently at an angle overlooking the crowd. So far White has kept the statue a mystery making no mention as to its purpose or its appearance on the stage.

Jack White was joined onstage by a new touring band made up of collaborators Daru Jones on drums, Dominic John Davis on bass and Quincy McCrary on keyboard. All of them seemed to enjoy the night, especially Davis, a native of southwest Detroit.

However it was White’s showmanship and stage confidence that ruled the night. Smiling and stomping around the set, White played the electric, acoustic and bass guitar, as well as the piano, exemplifying his musical prowess. He also encouraged the audience to sing along on several songs and had an almost preacher-like personality in his dialogue with the crowd.

The songs for the night were mostly a blend of the new album (“Taking Me Back,” “Fear of the Dawn”), White Stripes classics (“Seven Nation Army,” “Hotel Yorba”), and collaboration songs (“I Cut Like a Buffalo,” “Steady, as She Goes”). However this show, unlike shows from previous tours, only ran a little more than an hour, compared to the average two hour long concerts, according to data from Setlist.fm

The main surprise of the night, besides the first live debut of several “Fear of the Dawn” songs, was the proposal and marriage of Jack White and Olivia Jean. In all honesty, this was nothing more than a publicity stunt. The point of a concert is to play music to adoring fans which should provide all the happiness one needs as an artist. Instead, his desire for self-gratification got in his head and distorted his idea of the fans enjoyment of the marriage.

The marriage was a surprise, but the fact that it cut the average concert run time short by an hour dimmed my view of Jack White’s heroic return to the live stage. I expected the purpose of the concert was to bring himself and his fans out from the void of live shows brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this concert failed to deliver.

To add more salt to this wound, during his second night playing at the Masonic Temple during the tour, Jack White played nine more songs, adding 45 more minutes of music to the set he played on the first night. The tickets cost the same, but that audience got more of a show than the debut audience, which in no way is fair.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some artists who are good musicians and caring people, and there are some artists who are good musicians and rude people. A good artist in my book writes incredible lyrics and performs with confidence and their own personality on stage. However they also care for their fans, those in need, as well as their own art: that’s what separates good artists from bad artists. 

Jack White does give to those in need – from buying the Masonic Temple to philanthropic work in Detroit that has earned him an honorary doctorate from Wayne State. However when it comes to his fans, this debut show was a glaring example of White’s vanity preventing fans from getting a full concert experience.

However when it comes to his fans, this debut show was a glaring example of White’s vanity preventing fans from getting a full concert experience.”

Jack White is one of my favorite current rock artists. He takes rock to a whole other level of technological savviness and has kept the rocking spirit of the 1970s alive. However, his narcissism gets the best of him. I know this is true after the debut show, not only from my reaction to it, but from the fans who were there. Not one of them was smiling as we all left the theater. A truly good concert leaves everyone awestruck and happy. This did not.