The Christian religion takes Sunday as a day of rest. Jack White fans in Detroit this week took Tuesday instead, as it was the day in between his insane show at the Fox Theater and an upcoming one at the Masonic Temple. Instead of watching him blow our minds musically, we were going to take in a ballgame and watch him throw out the first pitch.
The game was a much needed respite for all of us, despite the beating the Tigers took in the 7th inning.
Woke up on Wednesday morning battered and bruised, having been rained on and baked by the sun over the last few days, exhausted and ill-fed, having cried a bit and laughed much, and sleeping through the shiveringly cold night in a section of abandoned Detroit under the watchful eyes of the guardians of a Gothic temple of secret Scottish rites. But, dammit, I loved every minute of it and wouldn't have been anywhere else if you'd paid me to be, even with the damned screaming seagulls at 6:00am.
Fortunately, the weather warmed up and the people running things at the Masonic helped to make the day extremely pleasant for us, to the point of the general manager of the Temple taking me on a mini-tour of the interior after I asked him about the history and architecture of the place.
As for the show that night, I was initially hesitant to talk openly about portions of my experience, afraid that sharing it widely would diminish it. It was so very intense and I've found that sharing the things that are meaningful to me sometimes backfires when others don't get it. But writing is how I process things and part of this experience was very public, so I've decided to go ahead and put it all out there.
I'm not going to go into extensive detail of the entire show, but it was obvious within a couple of songs that this night was a celebration. Jack played and played and played, throwing himself into the music and around the stage with absolute joyous ferocity. In contrast to the show at the Fox on Monday night, it seemed tonight that he wasn't going to stop. So many moments between songs, he'd get a look on his face when it seemed he was trying not to smile but having trouble containing it. Other times, the grin was uncontainable. There were a few quiet moments, such as one after he'd gone side-stage to interact with his kids and then just stood there in contemplation for several moments. There's no telling what he was thinking and feeling in that moment. The rest was just non-stop motion and exhilaration. He played so many songs that fans have been wishing for on this tour. Then during one of those songs, My Doorbell, he came over to our side of the stage, as he'd done several times through the show, and pointed and motioned. Sharon, who with Eleanor had been to several shows in a row leading up to this one and noticed by Jack at them, was lifted up from behind by our friend Daniel and pulled onto the stage by Jack's road crew, then I hoisted myself up and Eleanor did the same as the roadies reached out for us and Daniel helped out from the crowd side. The three of us ended up at the mic with Jack, singing the last chorus of the song. As we headed side-stage when it was done, my legs gave out and I ended up on my back on the stage, arms splayed. Kicked my feet in giddiness a couple times, then hauled myself up yet again to head to the side, where the three of us were allowed to watch the rest of the show with family, VIPs, and whoever else was there. One of Jack's roadies was in front of me, as he had to be constantly ready to run out and upright any pieces of equipment knocked over by the tornado on-stage, so in order to see I crouched down on my knees next to him, singing along and rocking out with as much abandon as I'd done down in front of the stage. Then it was over and we were ushered along with the rest of the side-stage crowd down and around into the bowels of the Temple until we ended up in the Grand Ballroom where, again, we ended up milling about with various family, friends, whoever that were there. Talked with a few people associated with Jack (the excellent show opener Benjamin Booker, Benjamin's drummer, Jack's drummer Daru Jones and his sister, Jack's bass player Dominic Davis, and Dominic's wife Rachael, who is the newest satellite in my Jack White musical solar system). Eleanor had struck up an acquaintance with Benjamin at the shows I'd missed, so he offered to take us upstairs to the dressing room area to perhaps meet Jack. We ended up again milling about, this time in a hallway full of family, friends, a few of Jack's fellow musicians from other bands, and whomever. Got up as far as his dressing room door, where we had a view through the chaos of him saying goodnight to his kids before they were carried out looking very sleepy and grumpy. Then he came out himself, stopping to briefly hug almost every single person in the hallway, including us, as he made his way out. And that was it. No words exchanged with him, I'm not even sure there was even eye contact, but there was definitely a profound euphoria, more intense than any I'd felt over him before.
But, of course, I couldn't forget I was still on the roller coaster. When we were hanging out in the ballroom wondering what was going to happen next and talking to people, a thought began to dawn on me that I might have barged into something I wasn't supposed to be a part of. At the end of My Doorbell, Jack had said to us "Give me a kiss". As my two friends were not only directly next to him but also taller than me, they each leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. As we separated, he turned around and headed back to his amp away from us. Realizing we were about to be ushered off-stage, I took a couple steps to follow him and when he turned back around and saw me, he leaned down for me to kiss him on the cheek as well (after which was when I fell down on the edge of the stage in gleeful delirium). And downstairs, when Jack's bass player came over to talk, he greeted Sharon and Eleanor with enthusiastic recognition. It was then that it began to dawn on me that perhaps Jack's gesture to come up on-stage hadn't been meant for all three of us. This was the 24th time I've seen him live in four years, including 12 shows on his last tour and three just this week. With the exception of two seated shows, I'd been up front at every single one. So he'd seen me many times before, but not with the frequency that he'd seen my two friends recently, and who knows whether I'd registered in his awareness at all at any of those previous shows. So my thoughts began to turn neurotic as I started wondering if I'd made a gung-ho assumption and barged into a situation I hadn't been meant to be a part of, which led to euphoria mingling with a sick feeling of embarrassment. The next morning I was still waffling between the two, wondering who that gesture from the stage had been intended for and whether that was why he turned and walked away before I could plant a kiss. It's just as likely that it was an issue of proximity and him being focused on continuing the show, but neurosis was having a hard time letting me see it that way. So I get to carry on with my life, dealing with day-to-day things and going to future shows on Jack's tour, never knowing whether I was supposed to have one of the most unique and special experiences of my life or not.
Post-script: Getting a Coney dog (Lafayette again, not American) into my stomach this morning and then hitting the road for the drive home gave me a bit of a different perspective. I realized that the stress and exhaustion of the week (and all the ones leading up to it) may well have triggered the neurotic speculation. What I originally convinced myself was misguidedly barging into a situation I instead began looking at as recognizing an opportunity and going for it. We'll see which frame of mind lasts, and how this roller coaster ride plays out.
To be continued in August.