The Raconteurs, Uptown Theatre, Kansas City

The Raconteurs – April 29, 2008 – The Uptown Theater, Kansas City, MO

The Raconteurs
Brendan Benson and Jack White duet while drummer Patrick Keeler looks on

There’s no possible way I can be objective about this show or this band. Brendan Benson and Jack White are musical heroes of mine. I’ve seen Jack play with the White Stripes, but seeing The Raconteurs play together is another thing entirely.

The RaconteursThe Raconteurs
Brendan Benson/Jack White

Jack seems as relaxed as one can imagine he can be. With a stellar rhythm section behind him (“Little” Jack Lawrence on bass and Patrick Keeler on drums), and an amazing vocalist on his right, he seems freed from having to always play the leader.

The Raconteurs
Brendan and Jack singing an amazing duet

However, let there be no doubt that he is. For one thing, the roadies all wore matching uniforms. Yes, like the roadies for the White Stripes do. Another, I signed almost exactly the same contract to be allowed to shoot the Raconteurs as I signed to shoot the White Stripes, except the penalty for violating the Stripes’ contract was $10k per infraction, compared to $30k for the Raconteurs. Talk about inflation! This is Jack’s machine; only the players have changed.

Raconteurs Contract
Contract to Shoot The Raconteurs

But, at their core, The Raconteurs are about the give and take between Jack and Brendan. Brendan is as laid back as Jack is intense. Brendan brings his butter-smooth voice, killer melodies, and pop sensibilities. Then Jack takes it to the next level, adding killer guitar riffs and solos, and drags Brendan’s sugary-sweet power pop through the mud, stomps on it, smacks it around, and puts his stamp on it. Anyone who dismisses this band as just a Jack White project, or simply the White Stripes with a rhythm section is missing the boat. The core of the songs are Brendan’s. If you don’t believe me, check out “The Alternative to Love”, Benson’s most recent album.

The RaconteursThe Raconteurs
Jack White and Brendan Benson

Only someone as docile as Brendan (or Meg White) could work well with Jack White. In this respect, Brendan perfectly fits the bill. Rarely moving from his mic, and rarely displaying much energy, Benson shows his equality to White through his vocals and his calm, laid-back attitude. To play on Jack’s terms would be a guaranteed loss.

The Raconteurs
The band shares a rare moment of levity

Nothing was lost on the packed crowd, however. The Uptown Theater had electricity in the air. The cheers from the crowd almost equaled the volume of The Raconteurs themselves, and this was one of the loudest shows I’ve seen in a while. It’s obvious that the band (probably Jack) took care in picking their gear. The speakers were modern (not your normal road gear), and the lighting was well-planned. The set was decorated with drapery and tree branches on the backdrop. The finale brought a disco ball and The Raconteurs’ logo forty feet tall on the Cyclorama.

The Raconteurs
The well-planned set and lighting add the proper touch

The Raconteurs, especially Jack White, held back no energy at this show. Once you’ve seen enough shows, you can tell when the band is tired, not into it, hungover, or just lazy. This band takes their performances seriously, and like The Arcade Fire, spares no emotional expense in delivering their songs to their fans. If you are lucky enough to have these guys play within a few hundred miles of your house, you’d be insane not to go experience them.

View all Pictures from the Show.

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