‘Once upon a midnight dreary, while I ponder weak and weary’
(Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven)
The Dead Weather are the visitors that trace our slow descent into madness on this dreary evening, All Hallows’ Eve. And they are not so much gently tapping, but sending infernal shockwaves through the fragile structure of Shoreditch Church as they burst into a cover of Pentagram’s ‘Forever My Queen’. Strobe lights shoot specter-like silhouettes against the crucifix that hangs hauntingly behind them – if the band were trying to goad some omnipotent being into showing themselves in anger and defense to such an abrasive and ostentatious display of rock and roll histrionics, answers to their call were met in the eerie reverberations that shook through the floor.
If Ozzy Osbourne made 1,000 pigs defecate in a church in the making of his 1988 video for ‘Miracle Man’, Jack White and company were surely close on a human-scale tonight. Flowing seamlessly from one riff-infatuated attack to the next, ‘Hang You From The Heavens’ sees Alison lunge, lurch and wail to inaudible rhythms with her hands down the front of her jeans like a curious child, as the spectacle of the show begins to replace the discordant sound that fills the holy walls.
“How are all my trick-or-treaters doing?” asks White as he steps to the front of the stage to cover Them’s ‘You Just Can’t Win’. Their response is one of open-mouthed amazement and zombie-like applause as the band continues to rattle through ‘So Far From Your Weapon’, ‘I Cut Like A Buffalo’ and ‘Treat Me Like Your Mother’ to close. Two new songs are displayed: ‘I Can’t Hear You’ in which White – who shoves a bumbling Alison out of the way to steal the spotlight from the start – and Dean Fertita exchange lead guitar parts like a well orchestrated 4×100 team; and blue-based ‘Jawbreaker’ that had been aired at their Forum gig the night before.
For The Dead Weather this was nothing more than an exhibition in how to market a concept, where, often as not, the music played second fiddle to the image, but for those of us that were there, it was probably one of the most haunting experiences that we could encounter on such a night. An experience we would Nevermore like to encounter or endure.