Orlando, FL • Sept. 20, 2006
My generation may have missed out on Led Zeppelin, but we’ve got Jack White.
Here’s the part where I unabashedly praise the man’s divine kills as a musician and songwriter and go so far as to say: Jack White silenced the death rattle of rock music with The White Stripes and has gone on to ensure the future of modern music with The Raconteurs. Was I excited to see the band- which pairs White with the brilliantly underesimated Brendan Benson and the solid Greenhornes rhythm section of Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence- play live? Truth be known, I was sick to my stomach with anticipation!
Opening with a 45 minute warm-em-up set of Beatles-inspired psychedelic rock was Dr. Dog. The classic pop sounds with a modern twist had the audience cheering for the modest band from Philadelphia. With two vocalists and an eclectic combination of sounds- from Beach Boys sweet harmonies to Pixies eccentricities- Dr. Dog were a perfect fit for the night’s big bill.
As I secured my spot front and center in the photo pit, the idle chatter behind me suddenly ceased and evolved into a roar as the house lights fell and 1, 2, 3, 4, the Raconteurs stepped onto the Hard Rock Live stage. An instrumental improvisation loosely following the chord progressions of “Hands” only furthered the 3,000 fans’ building pandemonium. From the second the intro turned into “Intimate Secretary,” we were all on a roller coaster ride where the twists, drops, and rolls got increasingly more fierce.
There are bands that sound great live. They nail every note, sound just like they do on record, and there’s nothing wrong with having that kind of consistency… but when you get together a group of musicians who are so in tune with one another that the songs can ebb and flow with seemingly no vocal communication between band members and sound so tight that they seem to have spent hours rehearsing the subtle changes- then you have a truly exciting live band. Take a guess at which kind of band The Raconteurs are.
They’ve only got one album of tunes to pull from so in between those 10 perfect melodies we were gifted with diverse covers. We’re witness to “It Ain’t Easy” (David Bowie) and an unbelievable rendition of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang.” The song had already reached high levels of cool when Quentin Tarantino used it for the shocking opening sequence of Kill Bill, but The Racs have rocketed the song even further out of the “cool” stratosphere.
The camaraderie between bandmates- particularly between White and Benson- should squash any doubts that this band is merely a side project. They seem to be genuinely having a blast onstage, and it’s nice to see Jack relaxed and smiling onstage. Free of his White Stripes persona he can shake free the restraints he placed upon himself in that band and explore new terrain. (Note: But Jack, don’t hang up the red, white and black outfits for good. You’ll break my heart if ya do!)
The Raconteurs are in the infancy of what is sure to be a monumental career.
To see more photos of this and other shows, go to jencray.com.