THE RACONTEURS ROCK ON

By Anni P. Lane

The Raconteurs :: 07.23.06 :: The Warfield :: San Francisco, CA

A RACONTEUR – according to Webster's Dictionary: a person who is skilled in relating stories and anecdotes interestingly.


The Raconteurs
There is a dramatic calligraphy styled 'R' that fills the entire backdrop of The Warfield's stage in San Francisco on a Sunday night. A giant 'R' that stands for the intriguing word that Jack Lawrence (bass), Patrick Keeler (drums and percussion for Cincinnati rock band The Greenhornes), Jack White (vocals, guitars), and Brendan Benson (vocals, guitars) came up with to define their new band, The Raconteurs. And I stand in the audience, pondering... storytellers, eh? I wonder what kind of theatrical performance awaits us? Will Jack White be even whiter? Will The Raconteurs come out with painted-on bruises and bloody cuts like the photos in their CD jacket? Will there be different scenes to the set list, reminiscent of Neil Young's Greendale tour?

Maybe I take the name Raconteurs too literally then? Their album is full of simple lyrics that sound more like rhyming lonely-hearted verses of late-teenage poetry. Lyrics like, "On your hands and knees, underneath the pop up trees, digging through sticks and stones, looking for store bought bones" (from "Store Bought Bones"). I guess not all stars can be Bob Dylan.

The lyrics don't tell much of a story, and the most theater we see all night are cliché rock 'n' roll moves, like dueling guitars facing each other as they rip away at power chord after power chord. Also cliché is an ever-restless Jack White singing, stammering, swerving, shaking in that entranced fashion that makes him a great. He shakes over to Brendan's mic and often sings almost lip to lip into the same head of a microphone. It's very rock 'n' roll, but the logistics are a lot of spit and bad breath. It was cool when the Beatles did it, but The Raconteurs? I don't know.


Jack White by Ros O'Gorman
But the music is good, and what they've got is an obvious love for playing together. These are old friends, which is something that cannot be faked. Oh yeah, and who is the fifth guy anyway? There is a fifth guy; he's on the keys. He would be Dean Fertita a guitarist/keyboardist who plays with Brendan Benson and on this tour with The Raconteurs. Fertita definitely adds to the sound, but he doesn't really stand out. He's a noticeable backdrop like that pretty big red 'R.'

I can admit my interest in this band was spawned by my love for The White Stripes and Jack White. In my eyes Jack White falls only second to Chris Robinson as what a rock front man should be. I think they both came out of the womb with a microphone in hand. Jack White's talents are endless. He's clever. And if he could produce that much sound in a two-piece band (quite a feat) then I want to hear and see what comes out of him with three other instruments holding some of the weight (four on this tour.) I want to witness his side project that is "not a side project."

I headed to The Warfield with my eyes set for Jack White, and Jack did not let me down. He was everything I was hoping he'd be, tweaking his voice to be that perfect White Stripes sound on songs like "Blue Veins," playing the guitar with the intensity of a musician who hasn't already "made it" and still has something to prove.


The Raconteurs
But it was dueling lead Brendan Benson who captured my attention the most. His more unassuming stage personality was a complement to his captivating guitar playing, which was sometimes funky and rockin' like on "Level," then sometimes soft during power ballads such as "Together." There is something very trustworthy about Brendan Benson's performance, like he knows it's going to be good, so then as an audience you should assume that it is.

Brendan Benson and the entire cast of The Raconteurs proved musically strong through the entire performance - a performance that in its entirety took less than an hour. What can you do when you're a band with a song base that only includes one album. Cover tunes? Okay, cover tunes. Like "Bang Bang (Baby Shot Me Down)" by Nancy Sinatra and a memorable cover by Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy." Beautifully done, the pitch of Jack White's voice was perfect for that song, and it was musically tight as well, leaving the audience hands-out, palms-up, shaking their heads from side to side.

The Raconteurs live show was a strong hour of music, but by the end I was still pondering. Storytellers, eh? My conclusion - maybe not. The lyrics? A little soft. The music? Great, even when a little too poppy like on "Steady As She Goes." Is it any wonder why that was their first single? Hey, it's catchy. I get it. The Raconteurs may have a name that does not define their talents, but they do have a talent that defines a new and promising full sound. Just don't look too hard for meaning or the story.

JamBase | San Francisco
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http://www.theraconteurs.com/

[Published on: 8/2/06]

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Comments

Greatwaves Fri 8/4/2006 05:46PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Greatwaves

are you kidding about front men, saw the flamin lips last night in cleveland and no one tops Wayne period , not Trey, not Chris robinson, he is the Talking Heads of modern times

Rebacreates star Sat 8/5/2006 07:13AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I'm Sorry but Jack White is certainly no frontman i would glorify. He was put in the top 10 list for Rolling Stones top 100 guitar players of all time over Zappa, Trey and plenty of others that deserve way more credit than White. It seems that the best thing White has going for him is a good publicist.

In regards to the best frontmen of all time... Jerry, Plant, Phil Anselmo (pantera, a real rock band) David Byrne, Brad Noel, Bruce Dickinson, Bob Marley... yeah all of these people make white look like nothing.

Wayne Coyn rocks pretty hard too.

sleazymeazy star Sat 8/5/2006 07:54AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

These guys summon up legends like jimmy page and robert plant.
Specifically in blue viens. In today's world people are looking for something old but something new. I think the boys do it and reach beyond what rock and roll is into a rebirth of simpler but expressive music.

pat5507 starstarstarstarstar Sat 8/5/2006 12:10PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

pat5507

goin to see them in atl. should be fun. glad to hear the good review!

fsu420 Sat 8/5/2006 12:15PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

how can wayne be a better front man that trey if the flaming lips havent even come close to creating better music than any of treys side projects, or even phish if you want to consider trey the front man of them(which i dont really agree with because no one in phish is replaceable, as a band with a true front man really just needs the front man regardless who else is playing)

Rinosquad starstarstarstar Sun 8/6/2006 10:15AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Wayne Coyne is not even in the same realm or class or whatever of David Byrne. Wayne's voice is terrible, the puppet thing is getting extremely old and there best album they made was "The Flaming Lips Finally Start Taking Acid." a long time ago Chris Robinson can actually sing and has range and versatility. The day Wayne Coyne is put into the category of Byrne, Trey, Chris, and countless others is the day I start listening to the Raconteurs. "He is the Talking Heads of modern times," that doesn't even make sense, very embarrassing.

whoknowswhy Mon 8/7/2006 06:01AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Its "The Punk Rockers Are Finally Taking Acid" and thats not even a Flaming Lips album genius. Its a 3 disc compilation of their Restless Records stuff. So that doesnt even make sense, must be even more embarassing.

bigchris starstarstar Thu 8/10/2006 02:19PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I wouldn't compare Coyne or White to a master like David Byrne. He can sing, for starters.

I was at the show and liked it. Straight ahead 70s rock, kinda Deep Purple or Foghat, which probably confused a few white stripes fans, like the writer of this review.

Jack's chops on the axe where pretty impressive, as well as the music ability of the rest of the band. It was nice to see him in with a full band, rockin' out.

who said the 70s were dead?

dedhed6111 Tue 8/15/2006 04:51PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

dedhed6111

what kind of moron would come on jambase and proclaim the frontman heroism of Phil Anselmo of Pantera? Are you truly a Pantera fan? i'm sorry i didn't really have anything to say except "the raconteurs fucking rock" but this guy, this guy. He is the exact opposite of everything that this site, this scene, this mad gaggle of geese is all about. He wasted on his friends, quit without telling them, wished that the great and almighty dimebag darrell was dead(quoted in an interview, no less) and didn't even have the balls, or the concern, to come to the funeral. I know you can watch BTM and figure it all out. Screw Phil Anselmo

cockeyedmaverik starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/12/2007 01:02PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

cockeyedmaverik

i agree that the lyrics often times seem a little empty and thats what stops me from saying jack white's better than a lot of the greats. it's a huge jump to make to start putting real meaning behind your songs, a ton of people can make great music, not so many create great lyrics. nevertheless, jack white puts you into the mood of the song better than incredible. just bought a fifth album frommost which is why he still remains him last night.