Carling Academy, Liverpool
Monday 20th March 2006
This shouldn’t be happening. A new band. No album release. In fact, the only release so far a limited edition 7” single. Nothing to buy for another month. They haven’t even gigged yet. Yet the tickets for this inaugural show sold out within seconds of going on sale. The hype surrounding Jack White and Brendan Benson’s new project is such that £17 tickets are changing hands for £50 outside.
Not that we saw the feeding frenzy outside. With my Gig Mate hell bent on avoiding contact with certain people inside and the frustrating shortage of parking around the venue area, we didn’t get inside until 9.15. So sorry, support band, 747’s, we missed you completely. I’m sure that you were fantastic though!
But, hey! Into the venue, quick glance at the merchandise, down the stairs, straight to the bar for a cheeky pint, and find a spot, just in time for the Raconteurs to take to the stage. Thanks for waiting for us, Jack mate! They open with ‘Level’, bluesy swinging riffs that immediately grab everyone’s attention, then straight into the wall of sound that is ‘Intimate Secretary’. You wouldn’t guess that this was a first gig. They seem comfortable with one another, genuinely enjoying themselves, and pretty chuffed to be opening in Liverpool. And every song is received with total enthusiasm, again amazing for a new band, considering that most of the audience have only been able to hear a couple of numbers at most up till now. The White Stripes comparisons are always going to be inevitable, even more so when they launch into forthcoming single ‘Steady As She Goes’. Energy levels soar. Everyone knows the words, and it’s only been playlisted for a week. Wisely Jack reins everyone back in with the more thoughtful, lovelorn ‘Together’, before giving us the first of the night’s two covers, a version of Love’s ‘House Is Not a Motel’. An almost jazzy, Hammond organ enhanced ‘Store Bought Bones’ precedes Brendan’s stint on vocals for a couple of numbers. The set winds up with a trio of rockier tracks: ‘Broken Boy Soldier’, the album’s title track, with glorious Led Zep guitars, then ‘5 On The 5’ and finally ‘Blue Veins’, which exposes the band’s blues leanings. They return for a single encore, the Flamin’ Groovies ‘Headin’ For The Texas Border’, and then they are gone. We are left with a sense that we witnessed the start of something momentous, the birth of The Next Big Thing; here in the spiritual home of British pop music.
Gig Mate made the comment that they played a really short set and that everything sounded like the White Stripes – but he had just managed to drop his burger and chips before even leaving the kebab shop. Tssk – that’s beer for you! Well, granted, but to be fair they have only got one album’s worth of material, and Jack White IS the White Stripes, so he probably couldn’t help it. It was, I must say, a damned fine gig. Can’t wait for the album. Can’t wait to see them again. I’m pretty proud that I was one of the first 1000 people to see them play live.