It was love at first sound.
Alison. Jack. Dean. Jack. Three normal sounding names for four not very normal people. The kind of chemistry this group has when they stand near each other with instruments in their hands is rare. It’s honestly something that you can only truly understand when you see it, so whatever follows will pale in comparison to the reality which is The Dead Weather live.
Normally this would be the kind of show I would pine over for days in advance…but things have been so busy that I got off work, published my Faith No More review, hopped in the car, and barely thought about what I was seeing until I stepped into the end of the line. The show had sold out instantly, and they added another one that sold out instantly (that I wish I had tickets for). It’s pretty impressive how much of San Francisco is out seeing bands this week- almost every venue has a sold out show for the bands on their way to Coachella. And even on April 15th – a night when many are scrambling to get in their taxes.
What was immediately apparent was the wide variety of people that were standing in this line. That’s the interesting thing about supergroups- they bring in fans from their other projects. Fans of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Kills…they are all a little different. And then there’s me…who likes those other bands….but for The Dead Weather, it’s love.
Once inside The Fillmore, the main room was shrouded in so much darkness that I felt like I would run into people making my way to my usual left corner of the rail spot. It was smoky, too, with the faint smell of food. Something about it made me think about being at a venue in the south that served BBQ or something.
The Ettes, from Nashville, kicked off the show. They were like a light version of Dead Weather…much more poppy female vocals over crunchy guitar. I mostly enjoyed watching their drummer, a woman with awesome bouncy curly hair who just possessed that X factor as she beat away at her kit.
Between sets, it was all hitting me that I was about to see something incredible again, when I received a text message.
The ex-boyfriend. He was standing 10 people behind me. Before thinking about it, I looked up and he waves.
When we broke up, it was on about as good of terms as you can do when you end a 5 year relationship and move apart. But at almost a year later, I’ve only seen him a handful of times, and it just felt…..weird. I had to spend a couple minutes looking at the ground trying to sort through my emotions, but luckily the band came out to save me from further introspection.
The stage was bathed in blue, revealing an ornate backdrop. The band entered from the right side of the stage, meaning that they did not use the Fillmore dressing rooms, but rather their own buses. They were impeccably dressed, joining their impeccable instruments that had been laid out by their also impeccably dressed techs.
Starting with ’60 Feet Tall’, Alison Mosshart immediately ripped everyone’s hearts out. That woman is wicked….she is everything I could ever dream to be. Halfway through the song and she’s bent over backwards, as the crowd’s mouths collectively drop. She hops over the monitors and walks towards my side at the front lip of the stage, almost slipping but never missing a beat…except for when she dropped the microphone on accident.
Side note- a glance at Alison’s wiki reveals that she’s from the same small town in Florida as my ex-boyfriend. Weird.
It’s funny how the girls are yelling for Alison, and the guys are yelling for Jack. Oh right, I forgot he was there. I’ve said it before- I’m not a Jack White fangirl, but after seeing This Might Get Loud, I am a bigger fan. But for all the rock star-ness that White exudes, it takes for him to be surrounded by Alison, guitarist/keyboardist Dean Fertita, and bassist Jack Lawrence, to make it not feel like the Jack White show.
The band goes from song to song- playing most of Horehound as well as a couple of lightly introduced new songs. The new songs sound great- I wish I could remember them better, but I know that they fit right in.
In the few short times that White spoke, he always said that he was glad to be back at The Fillmore, rather than saying SF. I thought that was interesting…you could tell he was a fan of this legendary space.
There were some points when Alison was jumping from monitor to monitor, and the lights were flashing on and off, that I thought she would surely fall. But she maintained her grace, even when doubling over one of the monitors and putting out her cigarette on the lip of the stage in front of us.
It’s hard to pick highlights from a set like this – and I know I’m not doing it justice with my words- but ‘I Cut Like A Buffalo’ has got something extra special about it live. Oddly enough, my only slight letdown of the evening was ‘Will There Be Enough Water’….and that is only because nothing could compare to the way it was performed when I saw it at OSL. Something was missing in the White/Moshart chemistry that was off the charts at OSL.
When the band left after the main set, White looked over and flicked his pick…and it went to the guy next to me. This happens to me so much that I now laugh.
They came back out for a three song encore. At slightly over an hour, the crowd really wanted more. “See you tomorrow” White said. Ugh, ticket regret……
After trying unsuccessfully to get a setlist, I stood in line FOREVER to get the special poster for the evening, which is quite beautiful:
On the drive home, I was feeling kind of weird about the evening. I didn’t feel like listening to anything on my iPod, so I turned on the radio for the first time in a long time.
Led Zeppelin’s ‘Heartbreaker’ filled the car.
Nothing is certain but death, taxes….and heartbreak.