We were first treated to a particularly loud set by Denver based duo, The Kills. With what I like to call a rhythm section in a box, vocalist Alison “VV” Mosshart and guitarist Jamie “Hotel” Hince blew our collective minds and ear drums with a rock/blues set that bordered, at times, on industrial thrash. Not to say that it wasn’t good, by any means. The passion and excitement these two brought to those of us who showed up early was infectious. Mosshart writhed and crawled around the stage, flirting with the audience and practically making out with Hince when they shared a microphone. As stated, the volume was higher than normal which made the sound a bit muddy up front, even through earplugs. But the band’s music and technological grasp of the rhythm section concept made for great rock and roll.
Now, enter The Raconteurs. Brendan Benson, Jack White, Jack Lawrence, Patrick Keeler and touring multi instrumentalist, Mark Watrous. Though only together since 2005, they have traveled in the same musical circles for years.
If it was up to the audience around me, it would have been the Jack White show. They screamed, hooted and hollered whenever he even looked like he would play a chord or sing a song. All eyes followed him as he lurched back to his amp, nodded to Keeler behind the drum kit and spun back to his mike to finish a song. All this time, Benson was shredding a wicked guitar solo, sweat dripping from his ’70s porn star mustache. I noticed this from the second song (Hands, from their debut disc, Broken Boy Soldiers) through the rest of the show.
I also noticed that White did whatever he could to downplay his celebrity. He turned his back to the audience as often as he played forward. He did what he could, but the crowd knew what they wanted. They wanted Jack.
What also struck me was what a cohesive unit the band really was. More pop than White’s other band (The White Stripes, Duh!) The Raconteurs played together brilliantly. White and Benson’s harmonies were spot on, at times revealing their Tennessee roots with a bit of a twang. When White slid behind the keyboard for You Don’t Understand Me from this year’s Consolers Of The Lonely, the rest of the band blended in like a fribble.
I really appreciated the extended treatments of a few tunes, particularly Rich Kid Blues. Starting soft and quite, the song rolled like a wave over the crowd, cresting several times before the big finish, only to be reprised again and again with further noodling and lots of fun. Another tune that benefited from the jamming was the set closer, Many Shades Of Black. Vocally shrill and rhythmically static, the song burned right through me and seemed to go on forever. Well played, Raconteurs. Well played.
Surprisingly, even with the encore (Steady As She Goes and Carolina Drama) the show was over in less than ninety minutes. I figured on at least two hours, seeing as they didn’t have to go anywhere but to the hotel. And not for lack of trying, as the audience stomped and clapped for a good five minutes before the house lights came up. Maybe I’m spoiled. I’m just saying.
Back out on Burnside I return to find my truck had been vandalized. The fellow with the argumentative dinner must have had enough of the bickering. The chocolate cake was all over the windshield and the tray and entree were in the street at the curb next to my tires, a fresh ding in the fender above them. The price I pay for parking along the busy street. It is a price I would probably pay again if that was the cost of seeing The Raconteurs in a smaller club on a hot September night. It was that good.
Rock on through the fog
PS A side note to my west coast friends. A “Fribble” is a super thick milkshake along the lines of DQ’s “Blizzard”. It is available at Friendly’s Ice Cream Parlors, a chain found in malls (strip as well as mega) on the East coast. One of the things I miss about the old neighborhood in N.Y.