I wouldn't have gone to see The Raconteurs in Brixton last week were it not for SonicLiving, the gig recommendation site. It was one of dozens of shows added to my calendar and I didn't even need to be organised enough to buy a ticket because, as it turned out, a friend happened to have one spare. Jack White's Other Band, as most people know them, turned in an impressive performance. Of course, it was the White Stripes man that everyone had come to see. For a while it seemed that the sell-out crowd were going to applaud every note he sang and every guitar solo he played but they settled down after a while.
At first I felt a little sorry for Brendan Benson, who shares singing and writing duties with White. As anyone who's heard Benson's last two solo albums, Lapalco and Alternative to Love, will know, he's a decent singer-songwriter in his own right.
Still, the intensity of White's performance is such that he puts the rest of the band in the shade. He's a wailing, screeching lunatic, lurching from one frenetic guitar solo to the next; Page and Plant in one body.
With just one album under their belts, The Raconteurs don't really have the songs to sustain the full 90 minute set. They play the album in its entirety and pad things out with a passable cover of The Christian Life (made popular by Gram Parsons) and an awesome version of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) which begins whisper-quiet and grows to a din that sounds like the building falling down.
There's a new song, Five on the Five, which sounds like a lost classic from the 70s and bodes well for the second album, but it's the highlights of this album, Broken Boy Soldier and Steady as She Goes, that really stick in the memory.
Or they would be stuck in my memory if I hadn't been listening to the recording of the show for the last few days. All the gigs on The Raconteurs tour are recorded and on sale within ten minutes of the show ending. There's unique artwork for the CD of each gig and the quality of the recording is very good indeed.