Live at Montreux 2008 (DVD)
Eagle Rock, 2012
REVIEW BY: Josh Allen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/19/2012
It seems just about everything Jack White has touched over the years has turned to gold. After soaring to garage rock fame in the early 2000s with the White Stripes, White explored other projects with significant success, including dark blues/rock band The Dead Weather, work on numerous movies (Cold Mountain, Quantum of Solace, and others), and most recently, a new solo album (Love Interrupted).
I maintain (until further notice) that the Raconteurs is the most remarkable of his post-Stripes endeavors. Joining forces with fellow alt-rocker Brendan Benson, bassist Jack Lawrence and percussionist Patrick Keeler, the Raconteurs achieved critical and fanatical acclaim in both recorded efforts (including, yes, we DV-ers) and ridiculously entertaining and energetic live performances.
Lucky for us, the cameras were rolling when White and company rolled through the 2008 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, promoting their then-recent second release, Consolers Of The Lonely. Live At Montreux 2008 – available on DVD and Blu-ray – captures a gem of a performance by The Raconteurs.
As much voltage as their recorded materials boast, the Raconteurs elevate their energy to the n'th degree during their live shows. Benson's refined vocals combat White's unbridled, raucous style from song to song, especially as they explode onto the stage in “Consoler of the Lonely.” Although each member has ample opportunity to shine, a most impressive performance is delivered by Mark Watrous, who breaks down the fiddle on “Old Enough” and provides flawless work on piano and percussion throughout the show.
Honestly, I always favored Consolers Of The Lonely over their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, but generally their performances from BBS significantly outshine those from Consolers. Clearly, the group is parading their new material, but the show noticeably peaks in the middle of the setlist with two BBS tracks. “Level” is simply amazing – it's really the first time they evolve into improvisation and a jam session, and the crowd reacts accordingly. Just as it ends, Keeler begins a signature steady, unassuming beat on drums, seamlessly segueing into hit single “Steady, As She Goes.” And just as the chorus starts, the head-banging begins. Main set closer “Blue Veins” is astonishing, too, crescendoing from Lawrence's steady bass intro through several phrases until climaxing with an array of sequences that are quintessentially Jack White, as he shreds his guitar and wails into a vocoder.
For the remainder of the album, the group churns through familiar track after familiar track. Only one unfamiliar song is attempted by the five-some: “Keep It Clean,” a distortion- and blues-heavy nod to the old school classic by Charley Jordan. A four-song encore closes the marathon, including the churning, offbeat rhythm signified by “Broken Boy Soldiers” and a comparatively modest rendition of imagery-heavy ballad “Carolina Drama” – modest, that is, until White beats his acoustic so viciously that he breaks a guitar string.
The Raconteurs last toured a few select shows in fall 2011. One can only hope that they decide to dominate the stage again one day, but until then, Live At Montreux 2008 will simultaneously quench and tease fans' desires for more.