Jack White gets engaged, then married on stage at Masonic Temple show
Hours after singing national anthem at Tigers game, the White Stripes frontman proposed, then wed.
Detroit — They came for a concert and ended up at a wedding.
Jack White capped off a legendary day in his hometown on Friday by getting engaged and then married on stage to his girlfriend, singer Olivia Jean, in front of a sold-out crowd at Detroit's Masonic Temple on the first night of his Supply Chain Issues tour.
White brought Jean on stage for a duet of the White Stripes' 2001 hit "Hotel Yorba." He introduced Jean to the crowd as his girlfriend, and then told her he had a question for her.
"Yeah?" she asked, her voice making it apparent it was not a rehearsed bit. "Will you marry me?" he asked, presenting her with a ring, and when she said yes he casually, perfectly rolled into the next line of the song: "Let's get married!"
And then they did. After scooping his fiancée up in his arms and carrying her off stage, White came back after a quickie break and told the crowd, "it's been such a great day, mind if we get married right now?" A small group including White's bandmates, White's mother, Teresa Gillis, and Jean's father, Brent Markel, gathered on stage, while the officiant quoted Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" ("Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life").
The nuptials were quick, the bride and groom kissed and White got back to rocking on stage, closing out his 15-song, 90-minute concert with a rendition of the Raconteurs' "Steady, As She Goes" — opening line: "find yourself a girl, and settle down" — and a rollicking "Seven Nation Army" that had the crowd chanting "ooooh, ohh-ohh-ohh-ohhh, ohhhhhhhh" as White and his bandmates took a bow at the end of the show.
"God bless you Detroit," White said as he closed out the concert. "What a day!"
It was the icing on the cake for a day that saw White release his new solo album, "Fear of the Dawn," and then perform a scorching instrumental version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the Detroit Tigers Opening Day game at Comerica Park, a game the Tigers won, 5-4, in a walk-off ninth inning stunner.
It was a day where the return of baseball brought renewed promise, and the sun signaled spring finally, at long last, springing. The on-again, off-again rain showers caused rainbows to form in the sky, and there was a buzz in the air downtown.
That was all before the start of White's concert, the first of his two night stand at the Masonic. He plays the venue again on Saturday night.
Like most of the crowd, Sarah Bills and Merritt Fritchie of West Bloomfield did not expect to be attendees at White’s wedding.
They are loyal fans: Bills estimated she has seen White perform a dozen times since she started listening to the White Stripes in the early 2000s.
Bills and Fritchie practically had front row seats to the ceremony. It was clear from that vantage point that something special was happening before White brought Jean onstage, Fritchie said.
“He was doing things off to the side of the stage,” he said. “He was pulling people who were close to him on the stage. So something was going on that he was trying to orchestrate, and then when he brought her out it just seemed like something special was going on.”
It was an emotional moment on stage and for the crowd, the couple agreed, and Bills said she cried while watching the couple embrace their family members and each other. (Don't go looking for clips on social media: it was a phone-free concert, and audience members' phones were locked in pouches that didn't allow them to be used in the auditorium.)
"I think I saw his happiness," Fritchie said. "I think he really was genuinely happy. I think that’s why it made so much sense for me, to see them marrying today. It was like the perfect day for him."
Markel, Jean's father, returned to his seat in the audience after the ceremony and confirmed it was entirely a surprise. "I had no idea," said Markel, who was decked out in a Third Man Records jacket with the words "Cass Corridor" written across the back.
Jean is a Detroit native who now lives in Nashville and is signed to White's Third Man Records. The former lead singer of the Black Belles opened Friday's concert, and is also due to open Saturday's Masonic Temple concert and Sunday's show at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
The marriage is White's third. He was previously married to his White Stripes bandmate, Meg White, and later to singer-songwriter Karen Elson, with whom he has two children. White and Elson divorced in 2013 after eight years of marriage.
Before it turned into an impromptu wedding ceremony, White's concert traversed his nearly 25-year career, encompassing his solo material and songs with his groups the White Stripes, the Raconteurs ("You Don't Understand Me," which White sang while seated at a piano) and the Dead Weather ("I Cut Like a Buffalo").
He kicked the show off with a rollicking "Taking Me Back," the lead-off track on "Fear of the Dawn," White's first of two 2022 solo albums which was released Friday. ("Entering Heaven Alive" will follow in July.)
White and his three bandmates played on an elevated stage built on top of the Masonic Temple stage, which was revealed once the massive blue curtain covering the performance space was lifted.
Blue was the theme of the night: It was the color of White's hair, his shiny guitars, the stars on his black denim jacket and the Nikes on his feet. A video wall positioned at the back of the stage presented blue-tinted images of White and his bandmates, and blue lights bathed both the stage and the crowd. Even the Masonic's two massive chandeliers emitted a blue glow.
The other theme was love, and the setlist was packed with songs that became clearer as the night went on. There was White's "Love Interruption" and "Love is Selfish," as well as U2's "Love is Blindness," from "Achtung Baby," which White recorded a cover of in 2011.
There were also versions of the White Stripes' "We're Going to be Friends" and "I'm Slowly Turning Into You," and White introduced the group's four alarm fire rager "Ball and Biscuit" by dedicating it to Meg White, calling her "a Detroiter whom I love very dearly."
White was a showman, pumping up the crowd and getting them to clap along throughout the show. But his usual on-stage fire wasn't raging, and "Ball and Biscuit," which can usually rip a door clean off its hinges, felt anticlimactic and hurried. Earlier, White seemed to let his emotions get the better of him during "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," and he was slightly choked up at one point and had to take a pause before finishing the song.
Later, it all made sense. But before that reveal, it simply felt like something was amiss during the evening, a slight case of first night-itis, as the band ironed out the kinks in the show by testing them live.
That didn't much matter by the end, as the crowd wound up being a part of Detroit rock history and now has a story they can tell forever. Saturday's concert suddenly has a lot to live up to. But White was absolutely right about Friday: What a day, indeed.
Carol Thompson contributed to this report.