The Raconteurs – [DVD]

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Anybody who has ever seen The White Stripes live knows that, as big a fan as any concertgoer might be, te band's live shows leave a pretty significant amount to be desired. No matter how hard the band tries, their shortcomings seem to be inescapable; Jack White's voice can be incredibly pitchy onstage and, if he's feeling the audience enough to really start playing hard, it doesn't take long for the guitarist to throttle his instrument out of tune which means the sound of it quickly degenerates into a molten mass of atonal noise. Those are moments which are incredibly hard to hear – but they're also the moments when questioning whether the problem is with the player, the performance or the songs becomes valid. Those questions have come up so often now that it's almost an act of reflex – which is exactly why people will be asking how The Raconteurs are going to sound before they hear a note of the band's performance at the Montreux Jazz festival, now released on DVD. The answer becomes self-evident as White opens the band's show with a warming eruption of ground-out feedback but then, like a cloud burst, the rest of the band )singer/guitarist Brendan Benson, bassist Patrick Keelor and drummer Jack Lawrence) all blow in together, temper White and introduce an all-new senseation with “Consoler Of The Lonely.” There, The Raconteurs present an all-new vision on an old theme; a little bit loose and all rootsy rock n' roll, the quartet straddles the lines between new and old as they join sweet vocal harmonies with abrasive blooz guitars, soulful keys and simple, to-the-point drumming in a way that sounds awfully familiar but also sounds brand new. On this performance of “Consoler Of The Lonely,” Jack White proves that he's at his best when he's thinking big (read: a bigger band than just two players) and that first impression guarantees that viewers will be interested – but the band holds that interest easily as Benson and White trade off on vocals by the stanza on “Hold Up,” rock the pants off the capacity Montreux crowd with “You Don't Understand Me” and then ascend to a truly unprecedented level of nu-roots-rock grandeur with (appropriately enough) “Top Yourself.” Each of those turns reveals that, to this point, the problem was not with White at all  because what's here is awesome – the problem was with what he was trying to present before; The White Stripes was a trifle compared to The Raconteurs and that fact is proven early on this DVD. Here – clearly a little more comfortable and not trying to be cool, Jack White overshadows the work which made him a star easily and proves (finally) that he is deserving of the praise he has received for so long.

As it continues on, The Raconteurs' set never flags or fades into the background as the backwoods in them makes itself felt on “Old Enough” before the band totally transcends belief with the methodical build-into-ecstasy that is “Level” and then turns lyrical conventions for the blues on their collective head for “Rich Kid Blues” for a bombastic slab of mock rock n' soul. In each of those cases (and more), viewers will find more and more reasons to love Jack White, Brendan Benson and The Raconteurs that were just never there before; while the other acts with which they are associated have never really helped to promote the members of The Raconteurs as great performers before, they come together in the most inspired ways here and effortlessly promote themselves and, by extension, this DVD as a show to see.



The Raconteurs' Live At Montreux 2008 DVD is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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