The rock star who made “Seven Nation Army” a modern classic might have a thing for the former military storehouse that’s now a Twin Cities concert venue.
For the second time in as many summers, Jack White of White Stripes fame performed at the Armory in Minneapolis on Monday night, the first rocker to twice headline the 8,300-capacity megaclub since its $6-million-plus makeover.
And that’s after he previously went eight years between Minnesota gigs.
While last year’s Armory show was a solo affair, this time the looming, 6-foot-2 singer/guitarist was one of two frontmen leading the charge with his revived side band the Raconteurs, who just issued their first album in 11 years. The concert still had the trademarks of a White affair, though: It was sold-out, extra loud and free of cellphones, which fans had to seal up in locked containers upon entry.
If they could have filmed it, concertgoers may have shot as much footage of White’s fellow Detroit music scene vet Brendan Benson, who co-helms the Raconteurs and is especially impressive on the new record, “Help Us Stranger.” Benson is more conventional and average-joe-looking — in fact, he was a spitting image of Minneapolis’ Paul Westerberg in this case — but he still came off like White’s most simpatico collaborator since his ex-White Stripes mate Meg White.
Musically, the 90-minute set was also more conventional and orthodox but still as frenzied as White’s more experimental, outlandish gig last July.
This was a straight-up, unadulterated rock show for whiskey drinkers and Cerwin-Vega speaker owners, not kombucha sippers and Alexa streamers.
After hitting the stage with a wall of Stooges-like manic noise, the two longtime pals cohesively slid straight into trading verses in the high-adrenaline opening numbers “Salute Your Solution” and “Bored and Razed.”
The spazzy start set up one of the brawniest and most bruising highlights of the night, “Level,” played even faster and wilder than on the band’s 2006 debut — and a mighty showcase for the other two co-founding Raconteurs, drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence. (Monday’s live lineup also featured keyboardist Dean Fertita, who plays with Lawrence and White in yet another band, the Dead Weather.)
There were a few sonic variations here and there. White switched over to piano in the Queen/Bowie-flavored “You Don’t Understand Me.” Benson pulled out an acoustic guitar for a couple of his more paisley-poppy, melodic numbers, including the new charmer “Some Days (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)” and “Only Child.”
Mostly, though, the two frontmen maintained a workout-like pace on dueling electric guitars.
They especially tore it up together in the very White Stripes-ian “Top Yourself” and the chunky, new, Queens of the Stone Age-like epic “Don’t Bother Me,” looking like they were having the time of their lives in each case.
The encore — which came nine songs in — was more like a mid-show break. Six more tunes followed, starting with the snide-sounding gem “Consoler of the Lonely” and the new single “Now That You’re Gone.”
After cooling off through “Only Child” and the new album’s title track, White & Co. went full-tilt for an extended-jam finale of the best-known Raconteurs tune, “Steady, As She Goes.”
It’s not as large a hit as “Seven Nation Army,” but it felt like an enormous end to an already meaty, big and bouncy performance.