Jack White is coming off a gangbusters weekend. Last Friday saw the release of Fear of the Dawn, White’s first of two solo albums that will be released this year. He also kicked off his Supply Chain Issues Tour, supporting the new record with a sold-out hometown show at the Detroit Masonic Temple (where a side auditorium bears his name in tribute). As reported by the Detroit Free Press, he also got married on stage on Friday night to his longtime girlfriend, the musician and songwriter Olivia Jean (in the wake of a performance of The White Stripes’ matrimonially-minded “Hotel Yorba” and just a few miles down the road from the song’s namesake). If this all weren’t enough, Jack White also made a midday appearance at Detroit’s Comerica Park baseball stadium on the very same day — playing his first cover of the National Anthem for the Detroit Tigers Opening Day game.
White’s take on the National Anthem is a big swing and, notably, a purely instrumental performance. He takes the lead on slide guitar in lieu of vocals, a radical move all on its own. Where White and his band really up the ante even is with their wild arrangement, swerving from Delta blues to squirrelly proto-rock freakout in a few sudden swoops.
Beyond just the marathon of aforementioned weekend events, the National Anthem performance marks a real apex for White in other ways too. The musical threads are obvious, tying together his earliest fascinations with the blues and his wilder more recent solo jaunts in one somehow-cohesive take. But it’s his long-running affinity for baseball—and, more specifically, baseball on the most local ballfields of Detroit—that make this debut cover feel like a truly heightened and special moment. In spite of a few befuddled fan glances caught on candid camera, it all comes together here for White and the hometown audience.
Check out the cover below — alongside a surprisingly giddy interview direct from the Detroit Lions dugout, where White speaks more about the special circumstances surrounding his National Anthem performance.
White’s solo tour continues worldwide through this year. In the first show at Detroit’s Masonic Temple, White already debuted a live cover of U2’s “Love Is Blindness,” released initially as a 7” b-side in 2011 (and, later, on the soundtracks of both The Great Gatsby and Peaky Blinders). Fingers crossed that more live cover debuts are in the cards for White and the band as the tour progresses.