Stylistic connections are often drawn between Jack White and the bands he’s associated with, including the Raconteurs, and heavy, soulful ’60s and ’70s artists like the Yardbirds, Humble Pie, and Terry Reid, whose “Rich Kid’s Blues” they cover here. But something else White and his cohorts share with the best acts of that remarkable era is a dedication to the highest level of performance. Simply, the Raconteurs are heavy. The songs of White and creative equal Brendan Benson are interesting, dramatic, and full of classic-sounding riffs delivered with a modern intensity, and in the hands of bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler, their band sound is unerringly deep and dangerous.
Fittingly, Keeler plays an old-school-looking five-piece Ludwig setup (one rack up top, two floors) with his cymbals set flat, and he performs with a leaning, traditional-grip posture that just tells you he’s a student of all the old jazz and soul giants. Anyway, his playing does enough talking. As MD managing editor Mike Dawson suggests, Patrick’s loose in all the right ways. Watching him play, you can get mesmerized at how much crazed flapping around his hi-hat cymbals are doing, and then realize how absolutely rock-solid his groove is. White and Benson must have the time of their lives playing in a room with Keeler and Lawrence, who’ve shared a keen connection since founding the Cincinnati neo-garage-soul band the Greenhornes in 1996.
This DVD captures the Raconteurs live in Montreux, Switzerland, touring behind their second album, Consolers of the Lonely. It’s a fast-edit, multi-camera production, so you get a lot of fantastic close-ups of Keeler, but they’re usually pretty fleeting. It’s a terrific document of the band as a whole, though, and repeated views do reveal more cool subtleties of each of the musicians’ playing styles.
Live at Montreux 2008 is out on June 18; preorder at eagle-rock.com.