REVIEW / PHOTOS: The Raconteurs @ The Tabernacle, Atlanta 11/13/11

There was quite a buzz in the air at The Tabernacle on Sunday night, with a packed house of Raconteurs fans very excited that the band chose Atlanta for the last stop on their incredibly brief tour (Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Atlanta). The band says that as of now they have no plans to record new material or tour again in the near future, so as far as we know this was their last show. I doubt it…but who knows. I caught them in Nashville on the first show of the tour, and honestly I thought they sounded a little rusty. They clearly messed up on a couple of songs. It wasn’t surprising, but I was hoping for a better show this time around.

Wow, they definitely gave me what I was looking for. Jack White & co. came out absolutely on fire, opening with the usual “Consolers of the Lonely,” followed by two favorites off of their first album, “Hands” and “Level,” the latter being when I first felt like we were in for a special show. Jack and Brendan improvised quite a bit on the playful intro, and were hitting every note. Jack went on to absolutely crush what’s probably the most iconic solo in the band’s catalog. If you’ve ever seen The Raconteurs live, you know that the band really feeds off of Jack White’s energy, and by the end of “Level” it was obvious that he was on that night.

I missed “Old Enough” because I had to run my camera back to the car, but from outside the venue it sounded great as always, with Mark Watrous lending his fiddle to the mix. I came back into the venue for one of the highlights of the night, a 6 or 7 minute “Top Yourself” that the band really went off on.

The two times I’ve seen the band perform “Top Yourself” since Jack and Karen Elson divorced, it seems to have gained a new intensity. Jack really grits his teeth and pours emotion into the lines “How you gonna rock yourself to sleep / When I give up my midnight creep girl / How you gonna get that deep / When your daddy ain’t around here to do it to you,” and the crowd seems to catch his drift. They let this one play out quite a bit, giving Brendan Benson a chance to show off his often overshadowed guitar chops.

While every song was pretty incredible at this show, I’d say the next highlight was “The Switch and The Spur,” purely due to the band’s energy and Jack’s extended solo. I’ve heard from many Raconteurs fans that this one isn’t their favorite, but it definitely got the crowd going on Sunday. They followed up with two of my favorites from their debut album Broken Boy Soldiers, “Together” and “Intimate Secretary,” which features one of my favorite solos from Jack.

After “Broken Boy Soldiers” the song, which was less raucous than it usually is, they went into “Rich Kid Blues,” which was absent from the Nashville show, and then finally what everyone in the audience had been thinking about in the back of their minds all night…”Blue Veins.”

I managed to capture a couple of decent videos, so I’ll let those do most of the talking, but this was maybe the best of the 8 times I’ve seen this song played live.

And then the middle of the solo as it calms down:

“Blue Veins” was the end of their main set, and as the band exited the stage, Jack actually handed his Gretsch guitar to someone in the front row. There was no photo pit area (much to my own dismay…), so the crowd was practically on stage. The band’s roadies quickly swooped in to begin the process of wrestling that guitar back, but it took a few minutes and was pretty funny to watch. Jack played that same guitar during the encore, so he clearly wasn’t planning on actually giving it away. It’s the main guitar he plays with the Raconteurs, the custom Gretsch Triple Jet. It’s probably worth at least $100,000.

The Raconteurs main set really left some gems for the encore, while not taking away from the set itself either. They kicked it off with their most high-energy tune, “Salute Your Salution,” with Jack and Brendan almost joking back and forth on the lyrics. They turned the end of that one into an extended jam where Jack I believe was using an auto-wah pedal. It was definitely a sound I haven’t heard out of his guitar before.

They followed that up with the always fun “Steady as She Goes”, which was their first single ever. I’ll let the video do the talking here:

Intro:

And the for some reason incredibly blurry video of the song itself. Too much energy!

And, of course, they closed with the always amazing “Carolina Drama.” I had to take that one in for myself, and didn’t get any pics or video, but you can imagine how special it was. One cool thing Jack did at the Nashville show was single the last verse completely acoustic, just his guitar and bare voice (no mic). It didn’t work that well…it’s just impossible to get everyone quiet enough to hear him, but it was a cool sight to see. This time instead he chose to let the audience since the last line, “Go and ask the milkman.”

I’ve seen them live eight times and this was by far my favorite, if you can’t already tell. Here’s to hoping it’s not their last!