Virtuoso guitarist and all-around musical talent, Jack White, celebrated a homecoming in the Detroit area earlier this week which included throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday night's Tiger's game as well as sold-out performances at the Fox Theater on Monday and The Masonic Temple on Wednesday. To say that tickets to these shows were the hottest in town is an understatement. Both concerts sold out the day they went on sale back in April. Deep in the middle of the tour for his latest solo LP, Lazaretto, White brought a truckload of extras to these hometown appearances, and audiences were accordingly dazzled.
The Masonic Temple holds a personal significance for Jack White, not just because it was, essentially, a home-venue for The White Stripes once they became major-label stars, but White's own mother once worked concessions at the venue in her youth, which was briefly mentioned during Wednesday night's marathon performance. After White famously bailed the venue out of issues related to back taxes a few years ago, the main theater within was renamed for him. The significance of watching Jack White perform in the Jack White Theater for the first time since the room was renamed was not lost on the dedicated and very energetic audience. The theater felt like a sauna well before opener, Benjamin Booker, and his two supporting players, took the stage for a spirited 25-minute set. The sound was classic garage-rock, and the tunes were at-home among Jack White's fans. For about 33 minutes, during the set change, the sweaty audience was treated to a dance mix of classic hip hop tracks, which were welcomed and fit in a lot better than one might expect, compared to the headliner's music.
After the audience was instructed to keep their phones in their pockets for a change, the lights went down, and the curtain opened to a furiously energetic performance of three White Stripes classics right off the bat: "Fell in Love With a Girl," "Astro," and "The Big Three Killed My Baby," the latter of which featured new lyrics in two of the verses, which may have even been improvised. The crowd jumped up, most sang along, and the air became as electric as it was humid. Over the next two hours, White and his crack band jumped from song to song, and project to project, featuring many songs from his two solo LPs, many White Stripes standards and deep cuts, and even a few songs by his other bands, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. When performing "I Cut Like a Buffalo," originally by the latter group, White and the band were joined onstage by two other members of The Dead Weather, singer, Alison Mosshart and guitarist, Dean Fertita, both unannounced, special guests. The energy and pacing of the evening recalled a White Stripes concert more than anything, however.
After a customary encore break, the crowd was certainly ready for more music, but few expected 10 more songs lasting almost a third full hour. The concert progressively became an endurance test for some in the audience, and some were seen to head for the exits during the lengthy encore. The attack continued from "Sixteen Saltines," with a quote from Beck's "Devils Haircut" at the end, to "That Black Bat Licorice," to The Dead Weather's "Blue Blood Blues," and finally ending with a four-song White Stripes finale, satiating the thoroughly rocked and sweat-soaked members of the audience. Unlike his recent media portrayal as a grumpy, brooding figure, White commanded the stage and band but also displayed a genuine connection with the fans and a respect for his own personal history in Detroit. July 30th became July 31st, the legendary building emptied out, and many wide smiles were seen on heads shaking in amazed disbelief.
Jack White Set List:
Fell in Love With a Girl
The Big 3 Killed My Baby
High Ball Stepper
Just One Drink
You Know That I Know (Hank Williams)
Weep Themselves to Sleep
I Cut Like a Buffalo (w/Alison Mosshart and Dean Fertita)
Ramblin' Man (Hank Williams)
The Same Boy You've Always Known
We're Going to Be Friends
Sugar Never Tasted So Good
Alone in My Home
Steady, as She Goes
Ball and Biscuit/The Lemon Song (Led Zeppelin)
The Hardest Button to Button
Sixteen Saltines/Devils Haircut (Beck)
That Black Bat Licorice
Would You Fight For My Love?
Blue Blood Blues
You Don't Know What Love Is (you just do as you're told)
I Fought Piranhas
Seven Nation Army