Monday, May 19

What Happened When The Raconteurs Came To Town

The Raconteurs - Carling Academy, Liverpool - 17/5/08
Some might say The Raconteurs have a bit of a soft spot for our Liverpudlian brothers. Not only is this the second of a two-date tour of the UK (which has already seen Jack White and his merry men headline London’s Hammersmith Apollo), but this very room was the setting of their first ever show way back in March 2006. Then, they were the obscure side project of said White’s. Now, The Raconteurs are an established band in their own right, even feeling confident enough to tackle the industry’s habits via the ‘non-promotion’ campaign of their second album, ‘Consolers Of The Lonely’.

Tonight, the not too big, not too small venue is crammed from wall to wall, and judging by the dim lighting, feels like more of a fourth dinner date than it does a sticky rock club. Until they come out that is, with White sporting a new hair cut akin to Gerard Way pre-Black Parade, deciding only to face the audience once he’s squealed out the chorus to set-starter ‘Consoler Of The Lonely’. Other guitarist, Brendon Benson, however, who for the record is showing off a curlier mop than ever, seems happy maintaining the frontman role.

The soothing, soulful blues of ‘You Don’t Understand Me’ is a strange place to go next, but it’s the band’s vocal unison that properly sets off the show: the perfect start. And though on record The Raconteurs can after time come off a tad dreary, in here, every key change, every plucked violin string and every one of White’s impending guitar tangents feel fresh and feisty.

No doubt each Raconteur is in possession of some kind of instrument level advancement as well, yet even after those almost classic rock few minute solos, it’s gripping rather than tedious. Besides, a spot of self-indulgence was always on the cards.
New album track ‘Attention’ and old album track ‘Blue Veins’ can’t help but fall flat of little-too-country-for-rock, but all is forgiven with ‘Hold Up’, a big-sounding epiphany of prog riffs by means of a chorus the front of the place happily roar to. “Hold Up!”

Things settle down with the twinkling guitars of ‘Level’, before Benson’s acoustic-led ‘Together’ crops up as by far the night’s most soppy of moments. Then it comes, ‘Steady, As She Goes’, which though feels a touch out of place next to the big and tough blues spectacles seen so far, it simply is a timeless tune.

An encore begun by latest release ‘Salute Your Solution’ closes with ‘Caroline Drama’, sung to the oddly low sealing until they bow down to the crowd. In a city where they clearly feel at home, this lot’s live show truly is essential to their existence. It just feels special to be here.

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