The Raconteurs steady as they go
House of Blues Boston, Boston, September 9, 2019
Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
More than a decade away doesn't seem to have hurt The Raconteurs by any stretch. Not only did they release a typically dense, bracing CD, "Help Us Stranger," but they are finally back on the road.
Not much has changed over the years either. This is an engagingly ferocious band in the live setting. The Raconteurs come off as more of a heavy blues, rocking band that sounds important. Their take on Donovan's "Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)" underscored that.
Having Jack White in the band can do that as well. Yet, this was not a case where White was the focal point at the expense of the band concept.
Not that White was any slouch. Not exactly. He played a taut, often times stinging guitar. He also switched to keyboards for a few songs, including the new song, the very Beatles-esque "Shine the Light On Me."
The Raconteurs were never only about White, and that has not changed. He and fellow Michigander Brendan Benson took care of the vocals, sometimes alternating stanzas within a song.
Patrick Keeler was steady with his steady drumming, ensuring that the songs didn't lack for speed. With Jack Lawrence setting the bass, the band was aided by Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age fame mainly on keyboards (and a bit of guitar). This was one tight band.
The Raconteurs closed with their biggest hit, the more poppy, yet at times crunching "Steady As She Goes" with White particularly dishing out more steely guitar lines. The band was steady in another way on this evening - their music was propulsive, steady and was most welcome after all of these years.
Never one to get tired of switch gears, White and band seemed to fully enjoy the night from start to finish. White even cracked a smile or two after the music ended, understandably happy - as were his band mates. Of course, they should have been. This was a tremendous return to the stage.
White protégé Olivia Jean, who, like White, hails from Detroit, opened with an attitudinally tough set. Jean looks like a rockabilly filly at least with her jet black, long 'do, but more importantly, this was a set that grew stronger and stronger by the song.
Jean is a bit of a throwback artist, more neo-rockabilly than anything else. She also was not going to be pigeon-holed either. Stretching out her musical wings, Jean showed there was good reason why.