.

Inside Jack White's Secret London Psych Ward Show

Guitarist dresses the crowd in scrubs and fakes a seizure at the end of his set

Jack White performs a secret show in London.
Photo by Jon Wilkinson
July 3, 2014 2:15 PM ET

Not many gigs start with the audience being asked to change into hospital gowns and end with the star being carted off in an ambulance – but that was how Jack White's latest secret show in London played out.

Blues Genes: 15 of Jack White's Biggest Influences

White has made a habit of playing unusual, impromptu events in recent years, but nothing could compare to the "immersive" experience he put on in conjunction with London theatrical company Punchdrunk. Fans gained entry by following clues online and registering to be tested for "contagious and infectious diseases." A phone call invited them to a late-night appointment at a fictitious clinic called Vescovo & Co., while a follow-up text message revealed the location as an office block just off the Strand, in central London.

But while fans knew the event was White-related, no one knew exactly what it would consist of. They were greeted by doctors and nurses who asked them to sign a disclaimer form and change into gowns and masks before under-going disorientating psychological tests.

Jack White
Jack White is removed after becoming "infected."
Photo by Jon Wilkinson

Eventually, after one patient was found to be "infected," the 100-strong audience was ushered into a confined space for "decontamination." As the lights were turned off and dry ice pumped in, some fans seemed close to panic, but that was replaced with delight when White and his band (also clad in scrubs) appeared through the gloom.

The group played a fast and furious set, opening with the title track of White's new album, Lazaretto, and including "High Ball Stepper," "Sixteen Saltines," "St. James Infirmary Blues" alongside White Stripes songs "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" and "Icky Thump."

During the latter, White faked some sort of seizure and was stretchered off, as the confused crowd were deposited back on the street, still in their gowns. There, as a finale, an "infected" White was carried from the building and placed in an ambulance, which then drove away – leaving the fans the gift of a personalized "prescription" from "Dr. White."

White is due to play another – presumably more conventional – show at London's Eventim Apollo this evening.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com