Live: The Raconteurs

The Raconteurs pic #1
(l to r) Jack White, Patrick Keeler, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence.

VERIZON WIRELESS THEATER -- 9/14/2006: Bands spawned from other groups always seem to have a rougher time of it than their original bands, and usually with good reason. Was the duo of Page and Plant better than Led Zeppelin? Was Slash's Snakepit better than Guns'N'Roses? Far from it, so being skeptical of a group like The Raconteurs is not an unplausible concept. Fortunately for musicians Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler -- The Raconteurs, as they're collectively known -- any skepticism is immediately rendered unfounded upon seeing the group's live performance.
While their debut album, 2006's Broken Boy Soldiers, runs a mere 40 minutes, the band uses their songs' brevity to their advantage in concert and plays extensive jams and improvisations with one another onstage. At Houston's Verizon Wireless Theater, The Raconteurs blew the sparse audience away with each song, leaving jaws dropped and people scrambling for merchandise afterwards.
The most impressive song was album closer "Blue Veins," during which guitarist/singer Jack White experimented with Robert Plant vocals and improvised solo theatrics that would have made Jimi Hendrix proud. Another crowd pleaser was their cover of the Sonny Bono-penned "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" -- yes, a Cher cover -- which The Raconteurs turned into an extended Zeppelin-style blues number. While their hit song "Steady As She Goes," as well as album tracks "Level" and "Broken Boy Soldiers" -- the latter of which is more impressive on record than live -- showed the band's dynamic range of power-pop and classic rock, their longer blues jams stood out and will continue to get the band noticed as serious musicians.
Both Benson and White shared vocal duties on most songs, and while Benson deftly held his own -- and he has very good solo releases -- it's immediately obvious who's the star of the show. White's stage presence and guitar solos threaten to overshadow the other members at times, and while they never quite do, one has to ask if the other Raconteurs can tolerate standing in the shadows.
Another obvious thing, though, was that the band was having fun onstage; not only did White and Benson seem to complement each other's guitar styles and vocals, they seemed to genuinely enjoy doing so. This fact, coupled with some of the most amazing playing I have seen in a long time, makes this one of the best concerts I have seen in 2006. Highly recommended. END