Excitement bubbled. Iggy Pop was in drag and mixing with ghostly ballroom fox trotters under white light white heat, waiting for the show to begin. A biker with a Flying Cross tattoo on his neck was chatting up a girl in a Phish shirt, the air was strange, yet still bubbling. When the lights dimmed, smoke began seeping from the stage and the “Frankenstein” intro played, bubbles burst and the mad scientists of rock and roll birthed a champion. These Raconteurs have a story to tell; they are one of the most exciting, tightest bands playing today, and put on one of the best shows of the year.
Before diving into their set, note should be taken of the openers, Dr. Dog, as the West Philly boys delivered. Clearly excited, they scrambled out looking like Dorothy’s lost traveling companions from OZ. Songs from the excellent Easy Beat dominated their 45 minute set, and the crowd ate up the Beatles-esque sound in “The World May Never Know” and saccharin sweet “Today”. While they at times they seemed a bit jumpy speeding around the ballroom, the massive “Say Something” said it best, they were going crazy “in every inch of their baaa-aaady”, opening to an appreciative crowd before a fantastic band.
Back to the storytellers, who donned their axes in the fog of medieval anticipation and blasted down the walls within seconds by opening with the most propulsive song in their repertoire, “Intimate Secretary”. Touring with a fifth member (Dean Fertita on Keys) Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, Jack White and Patrick Keeler are blaring in unison pushing their catalog to the brink, upping tempos and inserting drop-on-the-dime changes. “Level” and a glowing, super-charged “Hands” followed before a breath was taken and “Together” oozed out harmoniously. The cover of Bowie’s “It Ain’t Easy” was the first curveball of the night and the military march snare that amped up “Yellow Sun” was another.
An incredibly bluesy “Store Bought Bones” proved the depth of this outfit, the intro in particular was dripping with emotion before the theatrically bombastic Nancy Sinatra cover “Bang, Bang”. They sure as hell shot the crowd down with shining lights and blaring chords as a precursor to the encore of “Steady as She Goes” with the eerie “Blue Veins” ending the show. While no one can deny the star power of Jack White, it was his frantic guitar playing that shone the brightest this night. Don’t be mistaken this is a band, in every sense of the word and one playing at the brink of stardom. Once their catalog expands (rumor has it there is another album ready to go) this band will cease to be mentioned as a side project, and simply be mentioned as one of the best bands in the world.
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