DETROIT -- Two full shows in a day is a lot for any musician, especially a rocker.
But the way Jack White ripped through his evening show on Thursday, May 24, at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in the Masonic Temple, pulling off a third did not seem beyond the realm of possibility.
Following a 75-minute matinee with his all-male Los Buzzardos band -- as well as a hot, soulful 45-minute opening set by Alabama Shakes that validated all the buzz about the group -- White and his all-female Peacocks delivered a breakneck 90-minute show as ferocious, diverse and dynamic as any he's performed in his home town before. It was as if White was exorcising pent-up expression from all those years he spent in bands -- the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather -- letting it explode in an exposition that spotlighted both is songwriting and performing acumen.
The "star" of the show, not surprisingly, was "Blunderbuss," White's first proper solo album, from which he drew nine songs including a powerful opening salvo of "Sixteen Saltines," "Missing Pieces," "Freedom at 21" and "Love Interruption." He fired off plenty of his trademark searing guitar licks throughout the night, while the Peacocks may have looked like demure schoolmarms with their dresses and rootsy instruments (fiddle, pedal steel, upright bass) but also rocked with a kind of righteous energy that could go toe-to-toe with White, Los Buzzardos or any other testosterone that might stand in their way.
But celebrating his present did not mean White ignored his past. He treated the rowdy, roaring crowd of 1,600 -- which included plenty of White's family as well as Bob Seger in a balcony box and Detroit Wheels/Rockets drummer Johnny "Bee" Badanjek -- to a generous helping of White Stripes favorites, from the "old country" song "Hotel Yorba" to the garagey blast of "You're Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)," a swinging "My Doorbell" and deep cuts such as "I'm Slowly Turning Into You" and a pairing of the early album tracks "Cannon" and "Let's Build a Home.
White and the Peacocks dipped into the Raconteurs canon for "Top Yourself," "Steady As She Goes" and the epic murder ballad "Carolina Drama," while the show ended with a bit of the rootsy "Suzy Lee" teasing into a roof-raising "Seven Nation Army" and -- after acknowledging he "had a really good time" -- a calming rendition of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene."
It was a big night, to be sure, and the end of a big day for White. He may call Nashville home these days, but for on full day he certainly put all his heart into his home town.
Photos of White's Detroit shows can be found at www.jackwhiteIII.com
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