When the news that Jack White of the White Stripes and Brendan
Benson had formed The Raconteurs hit music publications worldwide,
it was met with a certain degree of apprehension. At first, it was
questionable how White’s trademark minimalism and
unpredictable howl would figure into a full band or if the other
members would simply have to settle for a bit part in the Jack
White Show.

Whatever doubts The Raconteurs’ debut album, “Broken
Boy Soldiers,” failed to dispel were entirely eliminated by
their live performance Wednesday night at the Henry Fonda
Theater.

At heart, the evening was all about rock ‘n’ roll.
Members of the audience talked eagerly of Wolfmother, Led Zeppelin
and the Scissor Sisters before the artists took the stage. Weezer
guitarist Brian Bell, his face covered by a light beard, was in the
audience. Cars circling the streets of Hollywood looking for
parking spots blared the Foo Fighters’ “My Poor
Brain” into the night air.

The show began with a short but tasteful set of rockabilly from
Soda and His Pawn Shop Three, a somewhat inappropriate name as
there were a total of eight musicians on stage. Among them were
singer/songwriter Izzy Cox and members from Rose’s Pawn Shop,
who are part of the L.A. rockabilly scene. In addition to several
dusty ballads, they performed a stellar version of Johnny
Cash’s “Ring of Fire” before clearing the
stage.

A half-hour later, The Raconteurs emerged to wild applause and
opened with a thunderous version of “Intimate
Secretary.” True to expectations, the volume at the Fonda was
much too loud, though as of yet nothing has compared to the
towering wall of sound known as Broken Social Scene that performed
there last November.

The group took advantage of this volume, however, adding extra
vigor to their already lively performance. Extended guitar solos
and noisy breakdowns were plentiful; the dueling guitar solos
introducing single “Steady, As She Goes” were among the
set’s highlights, as were White’s fuzzed-out vocals
during “Broken Boy Soldiers.”

Several covers were included in the set, with White singing an
eclectic version of Love’s “A House Is Not A
Motel” and Benson leading a much-appreciated rendition of
David Bowie’s “It Ain’t Easy”.

Surprisingly, the night’s best moments came from the
interaction between White and Benson.

Though it seemed obvious that The White Stripes frontman would
overpower his fellow singer and guitarist, they instead proved to
be perfect foils. Benson’s calm composure to White’s
erratic stage presence, his modest rock licks to White’s
piercing guitar solos and his well-balanced voice to White’s
uneven yelp kept the performance dynamic and entertaining. The
vocal interplays between White and Benson in “Level”
and “Together” found The Raconteurs at their very
best.

The Greenhorns’ Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler provided
excellent rhythm work ““ Lawrence’s rumbling basslines
and Keeler’s tight drum fills instilling the songs with
relentless energy.

Where certain songs such as “Store Bought Bones” and
“Hands” fall flat on record, their live versions were
presented with a refreshing ferocity.

Though their performance lasted little more than an hour, The
Raconteurs delivered a nearly flawless set of rock ‘n’
roll, their excellent live dynamic giving new life to their music
and giving all the members’ previous projects a run for their
money.

““ Dominick Duhamel