Following his much talked-about concert Monday at the Fox Theatre, Jack White put a huge exclamation point on his homecoming visit Wednesday with a magnificent, rip-roaring 2-hour 43-minute performance at Detroit’s Masonic Temple.
Inside a venue where the small theater bears his name, White made a case that the big auditorium should be named after him as well. He and his five-piece band tore into nearly three dozen songs — from the White Stripes, the Dead Weather, the Raconteurs and White’s own solo records — in quick-cut, rapid fire succession. He was so amped up that he whipped through his catalog like a tornado cutting through a small town; opener “Fell in Love With a Girl” was completed in a little more than a minute. It’s possible he planned a 3-hour show but hit the finish line 20 minutes early.
“Let’s slow down here and gather our bearings!” an exasperated White said around a half-hour into the show, after a home-spun, country western-flavored “Hotel Yorba.” “Pace yourself!” he shouted, saying it was the same thing his mother — who was once an usher at the Masonic — told him when he was growing up.
From the jump off the show — which was prefaced with a request that fans please stay off their cellphones — had a familial vibe, both in the crowd and on stage. White brought out his Dead Weather bandmates Alison Mosshart and Dean Fertita during “Cut Like a Buffalo,” and he lifted Mosshart and twirled her around his back in a show of affection as she exited the stage.
Meanwhile he dug deep into his archives for several songs, blowing the dust off of White Stripes rarities “Apple Blossom,” “Screwdriver,” “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” and “I Fought Piranhas” alongside crowd pleasers like “Icky Thump” and a set-closing “Ball and Biscuit.” Working without a set list, White would walk over to his organ player, Ikey Owens, after each song and tell him what was next, while his stunning drummer Daru Jones would count off each song.
White has always been an artist known for letting loose during his unkempt live performances, but his run of shows this summer — on the heels of his second solo set, last month’s “Lazaretto” — have been the most celebrated of his career. Even within those parameters, it felt like something special was in the air at Wednesday’s show, like White was channeling the energy of the crowd and his long, complicated history with his hometown through his fingers, into his guitar and out into the sold-out theater. The vibe was electrifying.
White saluted Detroit from the stage, shouting out Ted Nugent, the Amboy Dukes, the MC5 and other artists who had graced the Masonic stage, also mentioning Italy Records, Polish Village in Hamtramck and the other “diamonds in the rough” that fall “lower than 10 Mile” that make the city what it is.
His nine-song encore opened up with “The Hardest Button to Button,” weaved in a cutaway to Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut” (during “Sixteen Saltines”) and included a moment where he pulled three audience members up on stage to help him sing “My Doorbell.” The night closed with a never-more-epic-sounding “Seven Nation Army,” with the audience chanting along with the song like a European soccer crowd.
“Now that’s the Detroit I know!” White shouted at the song’s end, capping the night and wrapping up a concert that stands out even within White’s considerable history of Detroit performances. It’s one that won’t soon be forgotten — not by the crowd, and likely not by White himself, either.