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Concert Reviews:
Jack White goes for the long haul at the Fox
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- Go easy on that bleary-eyed person you encounter this morning. They might just have been at Jack White's marathon of a concert on Monday night, July 28, at the Fox Theater.

The Detroit native and White Stripes co-founder has always come home in style since he moved to Nashville during the 00s, but for his first -- and, he says, only -- performance at the Fox he raised the bar yet again, with a 29-song, two-hour and 50-minute marathon that was exhaustive and exhausting but absolutely exhilarating.

Sporting a black T-shirt and jeans with white suspenders dangling from the waistline, White told the sold-out and exuberant crowd at the first of his two homecoming shows that when he worked at the Fox "I told myself I'm only gonna play here one time. This is the last time I'm gonna play the Fox Theatre...I saved it for a long time." Earlier, White explained that he simply doesn't like to play what he called "seated theaters. The seats are too comfortable, the chandeliers are too beautiful, the popcorn is too buttery. But I heard Charlie Sheen played here once, so I thought I'd give it a shot."

But, he added, "This isn't 'Gone With the Wind' in 1930, alright?" In other words, no sitting aloud.

White and his fiery five-piece band didn't have to worry about that. After an energetic half-hour opening set by Benjamin Booker, the Fox crowd -- a home town gathering that knew the obscure White Stripes songs like "Cannon" and "Astro" as well as they knew hits such as "Hotel Yorba," "Fell In Love With a Girl" and "Seven Nation Army" -- was up from the moment the stage curtain parted to reveal White leaping around as he led the group into an extended version the Stripes' pounding "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," then into the taut instrumental "High Ball Stepper" from his latest album, "Lazaretto," before taking on the album's title track. By the time the sextet galloped through "Hotel Yorba," White and company had already achieved warp speed, with a long way to go.

Much of the charm of White's shows is that they're genuinely unpredictable affairs -- no set list, and seemingly no set-in-stone arrangements. On Monday White called out songs just before they were played and ran the stage by instinct, which led to extended improvisations during the Raconteurs' "Top Yourself" and "Steady As She Goes," White's own "Missing Pieces" and a hot medley of the Stripes' "Icky Thump" and "Astro" that finished with a bit of Howlin' Wolf's "I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)." Beyond the noise, meanwhile, White and company -- including Detroit bassist Domnic John Davis -- were just as effective when they quieted down on songs such as "Love Interruption," "We're Going to Be Friends," "Blunderbuss" (which White introduced as a special request by his Henry Lee) and the rarity "The Rose With the Broken Neck" from the Danger Mouse/Daniele Lupi concept album "Rome."

The show had some characteristically eccentric moments, too. About 35 minutes in, after just six songs, White shouted "God bless you! Thank you!" and the curtain closed, re-opening just five minutes later -- a "gotcha moment" that raise a few eyebrows during the wait, however.

It was a sleepy but sated bunch that left the Fox as White sent it home with Leadbelly's "Goodnight, Irene." If it really was his only show ever at the theater, he made it a memorable one -- and certainly set a high bar for his encore on Wednesday, July 30, at the Masonic Temple. White will also throw out the first pitch for Tuesday's, July 29, Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park, whith his mobile Third Man Record Store in the stadium's parking lot



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