A lot has been written in the music press recently about whether or not Jack White enjoys playing with the Raconteurs more than he does with the White Stripes. I have to say when I first heard about Jack's involvement with his new band I was a sceptic. The old he’s only doing it for money thing entered my mind, but nevertheless when I got the chance to go and see them live I thought I should probably check them out for myself!

I walk into Brixton Academy just as the opening act Bigband hit the stage. They sound like a cross between the the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the Eagles and they are pretty good. They sound even better still to me when I realise that the three guys on stage are from Norway. Their Viking accents in between some awesome blues work set the night's theme very well !

The Raconteurs enter in what if you will humour me for a second is like this…

“Imagine it's 1920 and you are in South America sitting on a balcony in a colonial house looking out over the estate. You have been up for days drinking rum and eating mescaline. A heat wave strikes causing a hazy glow across the land, which combined with your sleepless and chemical-addled state creates an eerie ghost-like shimmer around you. Add to this the sound of a haunting church organ belting out the kind of music that Dracula himself would be proud of and you are close to the scene on the stage before the band enter.”

The band run onto the stage whilst a Raconteurs banner unfurls behind them and two huge paper lanterns light up above the stage, and burst into the kind of noise that would make any upcoming trash band proud and pile into their set.

Good entrance, I think.

Three songs later and their blues styling is getting a bit old. It is still better than most but it’s the kind of music you have had to listen to several times to really get it (by this I mean the songs aren’t instantly hummable). It is here that they change the pace. Jack and other guitarist Brendan Benson both strap on acoustic guitars and bring the tone down, showing instantly in my eyes the experience this band has in putting together a set that captures an audience and holds them till it spits them out the front doors.

I have two problems with their performance this evening. First is the length of their set; they go on stage at 9.30 and finish at 10 then play a three song encore, which for a band charging £20 a ticket seems a bit short. Secondly is the fact that they play two covers. To be fair both are blinding. The first is a strong version of Gram Parson’s 'I Love the Christian Life', while the second is the most visceral and raw version of Nancy Sinatra’s 'My Baby Shot Me Down' (this song actually stopped me from walking out!) I have ever heard. For a band of this calibre though to play for under and hour and then fill about 12 minutes of this time with covers seems a bit unfair on their fans.

To sum up, it is a blinding show and proves to me that the rest of the band, Brendan, bass guitarist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeeler, are not just hanging on to Jack White’s coat tails. There is obviously, however. some overuse of Jack White’s name as to be honest a venue of this size for a band on their first album with only one major single and playing two covers does seem a little odd !











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Commenting On: Brixton Academy, London, 19/10/2006 - Raconteurs








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