Sometimes you just feel the presence of genius. Some people hate that label as it can be used all too frequently. But seeing the ridiculously prolific Jack White play with The Raconteurs, Brendan Benson (vocals, guitar), Jack Lawrence (bass guitar), and Patrick Keeler (drums), would quell most peoples doubts.
It’s not like White is doing anything that is completely original, but it is his take on punk, classic rock, and folk that creates something new. The secret to the success of The Raconteurs though is definitely the super talented Benson. Benson holds his own as a singer, guitar player, and songwriter. Keeler is a bit like a Keith Moon clone, not only in playing style but also his frenetic energy on the kit. Last but not least Lawrence holds down the low end in a low key manner that serves every song, not to forget live member Dean Fertita ( The Dead Weather and Queens of the Stone Age) who handles keyboards, guitar, percussion, and backing vocals to fill out their sound.
White was his usual 110% put-out of rock n roll vibe. Dressed in black including a t-shirt that was emblazoned with ‘BURGH’ written into the old school batman label, White played a variety of electric and acoustic guitars as well as piano. He explained mid-set that he wore the shirt as much for the Pittsburgh crowd as for himself. He apparently was asked by Christopher Nolan to appear in The Dark Knight Rises, filmed here in Pittsburgh, to play the national anthem during the stadium scene. He ultimately turned down the role because “Jimi Hendrix owns the national anthem!”
The 19 song set was a barn burner and if you left at encore to beat the cell phone return (more on that later), well you missed eight songs! (setlist: https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-raconteurs/2019/stage-ae-pittsburgh-pa-339fe0bd.html). The cell phone policy caused a lot of pre-concert controversies. But, all-in-all it went pretty smoothly. For those who could not leave their cell phone in their car, pouches that locked were given out as you entered and could be unlocked, should the need arise, in a few designated areas (far from the stage). The process in and out went smoothly, it seemed, and it was nice to not have to keep looking around and over a sea of cell phones capturing bad pictures and videos. People were actually forced to talk between acts, imaging that. In no way do I think all shows should resort to a repressive rule like this, but it was no big deal for one evening.
These guys were a ton of fun to witness and hopefully, they won’t take so long between getting together again to put out a record and tour. Until then you can check out their new release Help Us Stranger, recorded at White’s Third Man Records in Nashville https://www.theraconteurs.com/ .
Pro concert photographers were not allowed to shoot, so if you want to see show pix please go to: https://theraconteurs.com/live-photos?fbclid=IwAR3qDsv-94fb12WqQjPbwiv43-6PY-SUOKAZQ0VvhvQ_vZtXaH7gtsOdqTU