Rocker Jack White held command over his five-piece band and the crowd at his sold-out, nearly three-hour show at the Fox Theatre Monday night.
Drenched in cold, blue lighting, the Detroit native drove through a searing set that began with an explosion of rock and roll energy that led into the White Stripes’ song “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.” Instrumental “High Ball Stepper” and the title track to his second solo album “Lazaretto” followed.
Throughout the night, White gave a few nods to the host venue, admitting he didn’t really like to play seated theaters because people get too comfortable for a wild rock show.
“The seats are too comfy, the chandeliers are too beautiful and the popcorn is too buttery,” he admitted to the rapt audience. “But I heard Charlie Sheen played here one time, so I guess it’s OK.”
Backed by diverse musicians who flowed easily between rock, country, blues and punk, White jammed out longer and fuller versions of White Stripes songs from all eras, including “Hotel Yorba,” “Fell In Love With a Girl,” “We’re Going to Be Friends,” “Hardest Button to Button,” “Seven Nation Army,” “Astro,” “Icky Thump” and others. The latter kicked off an encore that contained around a dozen jams.
Several times, White would ask the audience how they were doing, a staple statement of rock stars on stage. The crowd was on board for the nearly three-hour show, which was prefaced with a message from an announcer that asked that the fans not use their cellphones during the performance.
As a band leader White had full control over his musicians, often quieting them when the audience wanted to sing along, but he would also shush the audience at times when he wanted total quiet.
White also showed off his guitar chops through a carnival of controlled, feedback-laden solos. He was at his frenzied best on “Lazaretto” and “Ball and Biscuit.” He also sat at the piano for a mellow moment in the set to perform Danger Mouse’s “Rose with the Broken Neck” and “Three Women.” Another quiet and emotional moment came during the White Stripes song “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket,” which he performed alone.
Other highlights of the nearly 30-song set were “Just One Drink” from the new album, and the title track to his first solo record, “Blunderbuss,” which White said was requested of him by his son Henry.
Before closing with a cover of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene,” the guitarist gave a quick history lesson, saying he planned on playing the Fox Theatre in Detroit only once. Earlier on this tour, he played Fox Theatres in St. Louis. White said the theaters, as well as his old house in Detroit, were designed by architect C. Howard Crane.
“It’s the final piece of a puzzle I’ve been saving for a long time,” he said.
White performs another sold-out show Wednesday at the Masonic Temple.
On Tuesday, he’s is slated to throw out the first pitch at Comerica Park when the Detroit Tigers play the Chicago White Sox. A portable version of his Third Man Records store will be parked at the stadium before the game, 4-7 p.m.