Chris Reynolds

12:55 26th October 2006

The Raconteurs

How many bands can claim that just a few months after releasing their debut album they’ll be supporting Bob Dylan?  Jack White, Patrick Keeler, Jack Lawrence and Brendan Benson are happily the answer to this question and this months UK headline tour will likely decide whether The Raconteurs are just a meagre side project or superstars in the making.  The fact that they’ve managed to sell out venues three times the size of Rock City perhaps answers the question in part, but does White have the ability to tame 2000 the way he tamed 102,000 at Glastonbury last year?

Before the main event it is time for Big Bang, a rather American sounding but Scandinavian looking support act, so it’s a welcome explanation when Erik Tresselt blurts out some rather broken but assured English to introduce the group.  The band themselves have clearly taken great influence from the States looking a little like Southern cowboys with the large beards drawing obvious Kings of Leon comparisons.  The music is just as influenced with bluesy rock the order of the day.  The confidence with which they deliver their music and the enjoyment they clearly have playing live makes them a stellar support especially when you consider this is a completely new market they’re playing to.

Jack WhiteThirty minutes later and a cacophony of noise blasts out from the stage heralding the arrival of tonight’s headliners.  White and Benson immediately stoke their intense chemistry with natural set opener ‘Intimate Secretary’.  The aforementioned cacophony builds to a climax before they strum the first notes and the crowd react accordingly bouncing along as the song picks up.  The bonus is that for such a new band they’re all road tested musicians meaning it doesn’t feel like a debut album performance.  In true Jack White fashion he produces some mind bending guitar noises in the first few minutes to set out the bands stall. 

The dual vocals of Benson and White give the band a fresh feel for every song and they both compliment each other with Benson crooning while White attacks the lyrics with vigour.  This is no more evident than in the finale the band produce.  The customary encore can sometimes lose momentum but when they launch into a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’ the set picks up pace.  Just three nights before they play John Peel Night in London it is not only a kick ass tune but one laced with emotion and sentiment too.  ‘Steady as She Goes’ is played with intensity and innovation with White and Benson taking it in turns to take centre stage with their guitar mastery.  The vocals deliberately clash and crossover to give the crowd what they want before they finish with an epic version of ‘Hands’

The finale adds great weight to the set and the crowd leave hoping this band isn’t relegated to a side project when the White Stripes return.  The Raconteurs are a Southern blues-rock band who have been catapulted to stardom on the strength of their members but it with these members and the collective unit they’ve created that they will stay there.   Keeler, Lawrence and Benson will hope that displays like this will change Jack White’s future plans so that that longevity is sustained.

Photo: Josh Shinner