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August 2, 2006 at 9:12pm

Raconteurs concert review

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Racontjazckmoore72706 RaconteursjackdrummermooRaconteurs live at the Moore Theatre, July 27, 2006.  Photos by Jennifer  Boutilier

Two days of Raconteurs. By Matt Driscoll

  • When: Tuesday, July 25, and Thursday, July 27, 2006
  • Where: Roseland Theater, Portland, and Moore Theatre, Seattle, respectively

It was kind of gross, like being posted next to a new couple at the bar, a pair who can't keep their hands or tongues off each other. It was awkward, like seeing something private, intimate, and borderline naughty.
It was Jack White and Brendan Benson on stage with the Raconteurs last Thursday, July 27, at the Moore Theatre in Seattle.
I think they're in love.
The Raconteurs, of course, is White's new band. It's NOT a side project from The White Stripes, or so he has claimed repeatedly.  The Raconteurs are White and Benson, teamed with the rhythm section of Greenhornes - Jack Lawrence on bass and Patrick Keeler on drums.  Keeler and Lawrence are the definition of tight and the most interesting thing the band has to offer. The Raconteurs released their debut, Broken Boy Soldiers, in May.
So if they're not a side project, what are they? They're definitely not a real band. I say that for certain.
Around the time the Raconteurs announced plans for their nationwide tour - and around the time the team of label types behind them started manually stimulating a "buzz," scheduling interviews, photo shoots, and reviews - I received information about obtaining press credentials to their Seattle show.  I responded, as even a free ticket to see Jack White fart "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is a ticket I'd gladly take. There's no disputing the man's brilliance.
I heard nothing in response. I assumed they'd figured me for a hack, perhaps correctly, and balked at the idea of giving me a free ride.  It wouldn't have been the first time someone figured me out.
I went with plan B and made a check out to Mr. White, purchasing tickets for the band's show in Portland at the Roseland. 
Flash forward.  The morning after seeing the Raconteurs in Portland on Tuesday, I received a surprise e-mail - confirmation for press credentials for the show in Seattle on Thursday. Despite the short notice, I was on it.  I kept my mouth shut about having already seen the band, and let the Raconteurs' record label put me on the list for Thursday's performance at the Moore - promising them a write-up in return.
That's the business.
After seeing the Raconteurs deliver nearly identical sets to nearly identically craving crowds in the span of three days, at best I can say the band is a sometimes pleasant product of Jack White's ego. At best. The punch of Keeler and Lawrence is the band's saving grace - and what makes them tick. Benson looks sheepish and out of place, and White seems content to play boring songs with boring chord progressions, making his friends some money and assuming crowds will unquestionably consume anything with his name on it.
Apparently they will.
There were two tour buses parked in front of the Moore. I assume one is for the band and the other for White's ego
Both nights the Raconteurs played around a dozen songs, staying on stage for a little over an hour.  Both nights the band waited for the encore to dish up the hit single "Steady, As She Goes."  Both nights they mixed in a couple of unfamiliar numbers not from their record, which proved the most enjoyable. Both nights White appeared a little thick around the middle.  Both nights Benson looked uncomfortable and under qualified. Both nights it was the rock star strut of White that brought the crowd to a roar.
At the end of each performance, the band gathered at center stage, embracing and smiling, chumming around like schoolboys, and bowed to a wildly appreciative crowd.  They lined up with White and Benson in the middle, White's linebacker arms engulfing and protecting frail Benson.  If I didn't know better, I'd say they were lovers. 
If not lovers, the two are definitely long lost brothers. One got the teeny tiny rock star looks. The other got the talent.  The Raconteurs have their moments. Their rhythm section is as solid as any in the business.  You can tell White and Benson truly love each other. But they're not a real band.
The Raconteurs is White's side project. It's as simple as that.

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