Friday, September 18, 2009

Raconteurs - Roseland Theater - September 17th, 2008

Getting backstage at a Raconteurs concert is one thing. Meeting Jack White is another. But wait, I'll get to that. The Raconteurs walk out onstage to loud, pulsating music; the stage backlit to look as if they are playing as the sun is setting in an eerie, ancient forest. Jack slings his guitar over his head but keeps his back to the crowd. Ever the consummate showman, he knows you love the band but that you’re really there to see him. They build up the song to a roar as he slowly backs up to the microphone, finally turning around to scream out "Haven't seen the sun in weeks. My skin is getting pale!" and reveals that he has painted his face a stark white. Dramatic, fantastic, shocking, in essence: rock-n-roll. The crowd erupts and Jack makes sure to keep this intensity, this mania to a fever pitch for the rest of the night. 2 years ago, in this same theater, the Racs were just the Jack White side-project; something to keep him busy while the White Stripes rested. But now they're an awesome band to be reckoned with. And clearly, Jack White doesn't rest. His wife must have earplugs on a string around her neck because know this. Even if he's not on tour: He is rocking, loud and hard, somewhere.With every blues riff, every rocking solo, every single word, whether he's whispering it with his eyes closed or screaming it in his mad scientist howl, he is here to rock your world and he won't stop until he's completely convinced you that he is the one of the best frontmen you've ever seen. Jagger? Daltrey? Plant? "Sure, I can hang with them. But do they play a guitar like THIS?!!!" On a Wednesday night in Portland he brought the crowd to their feet for the entire show and even the jaded, music-industry insiders that I was with were left with jaws on the floor and heads shaking in stunned amazement. Yes, it was that good.
Afterwards we managed to get backstage and I was determined to meet Jack. We walked down a flight of stairs into a dank, musty basement with old couches, coolers of beer and tables loaded with booze. I saw him in the distance but he disappeared into a smaller, darker room. As discreet and cool as possible I made my way over to that doorway only to see him disappear into yet another smaller room. I convinced myself that he had gone into a room with no exit and stood my ground hoping he would have to come back by me at some point. We met the band; gracious, cool, thankful. Hell, they know they've got a killer gig with a badass boss. Alls they have to do is show up, play very close attention, and rock hard. Really hard. But wait. Here he comes! What do I say? "Hi Jack, could I talk to you for a moment?" He smiles and says "Of course, what's your name?" "My name is Kenny and I just want to thank you for the great show and I also want to thank you for bringing Loretta Lynn back into the limelight. I love her." He said "Oh hey thanks. It was my pleasure. She's my idol. I still can't believe she’s my friend." I said "Would you mind posing for a picture?" He said "I'd be glad to." And with those words he summed up a night I won't ever forget.

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