Jack White, Brendan Benson trade hits at intimate acoustic show

Ahead of the two Raconteurs concerts at the Masonic Temple this weekend, White and Benson shared the stage at Third Man on Tuesday

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

It was a two-man acoustical jam as Jack White and Brendan Benson played an intimate 12-song, 45-minute show for a few hundred fans Tuesday night at White's Third Man Records Cass Corridor. 

The two Raconteurs teamed up to perform songs from their respective catalogs, joint songs they've done together and covers of songs by Pink Floyd and Little Richard. The evening was a warm-up of sorts for White and Benson, who will play with the Raconteurs on Friday and Saturday night at Detroit's Masonic Temple. 

It was also an evening of celebration, as White turned 44 on Tuesday. The sold-out crowd, which snatched up tickets quickly when the concert was announced Monday, serenaded White with a surprise rendition of "Happy Birthday," and a blushing White accepted a birthday card from one member of the audience. 

White has played his venue before: he hit the stage there in April 2018, the night before he played a headlining concert at nearby Little Caesars Arena. As is usual for White, Tuesday's was a phone-free show, with audience members' cell phones locked in pouches.  

The loose outing opened with an introduction from Third Man's Ben Blackwell, who explained that White and Benson's first proper show together was 20 years prior at the nearby Garden Bowl.

Benson and White hit the stage at a quarter after 8, the sun still beaming in through the store-front windows, as members of their families — including White's mother, Teresa Gillis, and the Ractonteurs' touring keyboardist, Dean Fertita — watched on from the balcony. "Welcome to Third Man open mic night," Benson joked, sitting down on his stool. "Who's next?"

The duo opened with Pink Floyd's "Fearless," from 1971's "Meddle" album, and Benson followed by taking the lead on the White Stripes' "Sugar Never Tasted So Good," introducing it as one of his favorite songs of White's. White returned the favor, playing "Metarie," from Benson's 2002 album "Lapalco."  

The pair — who said they spent the day on Tuesday walking around Detroit and enjoying the "kind of perfect" weather — continued with "Only Child," one of several offerings from the Raconteurs new album "Help Us Stranger," which recently debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's albums chart. A cover of Little Richard's "Lucille" came next, with a tease of the Go-Go's "We Got the Beat" up front. 

A robust version of "Now That You're Gone" from "Help Us Stranger" concluded with White and Benson performing a double guitar breakdown, "the Tenacious D portion of the set," Benson joked. A few more Raconteurs songs followed — including "Together," from 2006's "Broken Boy Soldiers" — and White offered up a choked up version of "As Ugly As I Seem," from the White Stripes' 2005 set "Get Behind Me Satan." 

The performance was set to close with the new album's "Help 

Me Stranger," but spotting a little girl in the audience with a "We're Going To Be Friends" shirt, White segued into an impromptu rendition of the White Stripes favorite. "I know we didn't rehearse this one," White said to Benson. "Watch me for the changes." 

"Help Me Stranger" closed the show, as White and Benson stood together, arms around each other, and exited the stage. It was only about a half a mile from the bowling alley where they first played together, but they'd certainly come a long way. 

Jack White/ Brendan Benson set list

— Fearless (Pink Floyd cover)

— Sugar Never Tasted So Good (White Stripes) 

— Metarie (Brendan Benson) 

— Only Child (Raconteurs)

— Lucille (Little Richard cover)

— Love Interruption (Jack White) 

— Now That You’re Gone (Raconteurs) 

— Shine the Light On Me (Raconteurs)

— As Ugly As I Seem (White Stripes) 

— Together (Raconteurs)

— We’re Going to Be Friends (White Stripes) 

— Help Me Stranger (Raconteurs)