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Jack White to Masonic crowd: 'Move to Detroit!'

The Raconteurs opened their North American tour with a blazing set at Detroit's Masonic Temple Friday night

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

During the Raconteurs' scorching hot tour opener at Detroit’s Masonic Temple Friday night, an amped-up Jack White made a passionate plea to the sold-out crowd.

“We want everybody to move into the city of Detroit,” said White, during a rendition of "Consoler of the Lonely" that followed a brief break midway through the set. “Move out of the suburbs, move down to the city of Detroit and take this mother (expletive) over!”

White's fiery speech was one of many high points in the Raconteurs' rip-roaring 90-minute performance, which unfolded before an audience that included White's mother (who once worked as an usher at the Masonic), Detroit Tigers legend Kirk Gibson and White's former bandmate, White Stripes drummer Meg White. 

White had reason to be beaming about his hometown. He spent the week here, performing at Third Man Records Cass Corridor with his fellow Raconteur Brendan Benson on Tuesday, his 44th birthday, and he lead a charity baseball game for Hamtramck Stadium on Thursday. It's been a picturesque week, weather-wise, and at both Tuesday's show and Friday's concert, White — who now resides in Nashville — mentioned taking in the sunshine and cruising around his old haunts. 

The Raconteurs play with Jack White on guitar and vocals, left, and Jack Lawrence on bass at the Masonic Temple in Detroit on July 12, 2019.

"Was it a beautiful day in Detroit today or what?" White asked the crowd Friday as he lead into "Sunday Driver." Earlier he had described he and his bandmates riding their bicycles down East Grand Blvd. on Thursday, passing by Benson's old residence where the attic acted as the recording studio for the Raconteurs' 2006 debut album "Broken Boy Soldiers."

But it wasn't nostalgia White was feeling, it was a fervor, and his intensity was infectious.  

White, dressed in all black with black suspenders holding up his Levi's jeans, prowled the stage like an uncaged animal, pacing back and forth, climbing the drum riser and nearly falling over onto his guitar amp. He took a swing at his microphone stand and knocked it over during opener "Bored and Razed," setting the pace for the night. 

The crowd — warmed up by stirring, spirited opening sets by gospel acts Nikki D and the Sisters of Thunder and the Pure Heart Travelers and sweaty from the thick air inside the Masonic — gave back all the energy that White put out, roaring in approval, clapping along and bouncing in unison to set closer "Steady As She Goes."

The 15-song set pulled heavily from last month's "Help Us Stranger," and touched on "Broken Boy Soldiers" and 2008's "Consolers of the Lonely." Benson locked into his position stage right and acted as the yin to White's yang; the best Raconteurs songs, like the explosive "Consoler of the Lonely," are like a car crash between their contrasting styles. 

Bassist Jack Lawrence, drummer Patrick Keeler and Royal Oak-bred touring keyboardist (and sometime Queen of the Stone Age) Dean Fertita rounded out the five-piece, which sounded particularly robust during "You Don't Understand Me," which saw White taking over for Fertita on keys. The Detroit Cobras' Mary Ramirez joined the group on guitar during a cover of Donovan's "Hey Gyp (Dig the Sweetness." 

It was unclear if the band was working off a setlist — White seemed to be calling out to his bandmates on the fly — and the band opened up into a spacey "Blue Veins" that approached and may have surpassed the 10-minute mark, and saw White's most adventurous guitar playing of the night. 

Throughout the evening, White was in a fighting good mood: upbeat, energetic, comfortable and in rock star mode. He seemed to feel right at home; it helps, of course, that the Masonic has a theater named after him.

Friday's show is a tough one to beat, but the Raconteurs get another shot when the band repeats Saturday night at the Masonic Temple. It's likely to be another hot one.


Bored and Razed


Don’t Bother Me

You Don’t Understand Me

Old Enough

Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)

What’s Yours is Mine

Top Yourself

Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)

Consoler of the Lonely

Now That You’re Gone


Sunday Driver

Live a Lie

Blue Veins

Steady As She Goes