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Jack White talks Greta Van Fleet & Woodstock as Raconteurs tour rolls on (pics/interview)

After playing some intimate club shows, The Raconteurs kicked off their tour supporting their excellent new album Help Us Stranger in earnest on Friday in Jack White’s onetime home of Detroit, and then hit Milwaukee on Sunday (7/14) for a show at The Eagles Ballroom with Lillie Mae. Here’s a bit of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s review of the show:

The Raconteurs also have something significant to say, with multiple songs serving as a call for empathy during troubling times. That’s conveyed through a variety of approaches. A powder-keg rendition of “Don’t Bother Me” Sunday showed a riled-up White condemning an unnamed figure for “groping and griping” and for being a “ruthless rule-bender.” (Bet you can presume who most people think he’s talking about.)

On “Help Me Stranger,” Benson suggested a “stranger” and a “brother” are one and the same, imploring people to spare the time to help those in need. And on “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying),” he urged others to look beneath the surface (“If you could just see inside of me/You’d see a heart made of gold”), and conveyed that universal sensation of being overwhelmed by anxiety and sadness (“Some days I just feel like crying”) en route to a rousing, repetitive proclamation of “I’m here right now, I’m not dead yet.”

Benson handled vocal duties on his own for “Somedays,” with White literally in the shadows. He doesn’t have the swagger and showmanship of White — few do — but he’s indisputably a leader of this band on the stage, and part of the fun of seeing the Raconteurs is watching White happily concede some control. He’s less a rock-star showing off then a guy having fun with friends, and there’s a cool contrast, too, between White’s erratic vocals and spiked guitar frills with Benson’s sturdy voice and steadfast guitar work, most apparent Sunday during show-opener “Consoler of the Lonely.”

You can check out the setlist from the Milwaukee show below and pictures from the whole night are in the gallery above.

The Raconteurs’ tour hits NYC in September for three shows. You can still get tickets to the 9/5 The Hammerstein at Manhattan Center show (the 9/6 Hammerstein and 9/7 Kings Theatre shows are sold out.

Meanwhile, Jack White talked about liking Greta Van Fleet and Twenty One Pilots, the state of Woodstock 50, and more in a new interview with Rolling Stone:

Rolling Stone:What new music gives you hope?
Jack White:All the rock & roll albums coming out this year. The Hives, the Black Keys . . . It’s also great that people still appreciate a band that writes songs like Vampire Weekend and Twenty One Pilots. It’s just really great songwriting.

RS:It’s interesting you mentioned Twenty One Pilots.
JW:I love what they’re doing. First time I saw them was on Saturday Night Live. And I thought “Oh, that’s really great. Another really cool two piece band that can do something really powerful.” I liked what they were doing, playing piano and bass, that guy, the lead singer. And it was strong. And then you’ve got Royal Blood, another really good two-piece band that’s just bad ass.

RS:How about Greta Van Fleet? They’re often criticized for copying older blues and rock acts, just like you once were.
JW:They’re three Polish brothers from Frankenmuth, Michigan — I thought that was a joke! But it’s exciting to see young people play rock & roll, no doubt about it. That guy has a very cool voice. The more he makes it his own, the better. People used to say, when I first came out, “He sounds like Robert Plant.” If you keep pushing forward, that shit goes away.

RS: The biggest song in the U.S. is Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” What do you think of it?
JW: It’s beautiful. The song is only a minute and 47 seconds long or something — that’s how long “Fell in Love With a Girl” was. People said, “They’re not going to play that on radio.” But it worked, and it’s great that it’s happening again.

RS: The Raconteurs are supposed to play Woodstock 50. Are you still planning on that?
JW: I don’t really understand it myself. Someone told me they didn’t have the right size permit or something. I didn’t really understand it. All I know is whenever I hear about things like that, all I can think is, “I’m so glad I’m not a producer for a festival because it sounds like a nightmare.” Every time you pull into one, you’re like, “Wow, I don’t want any part in organizing this thing, man. Jeez oh mighty.” Just the bathrooms alone could just be complicated enough.

Read the interview in full here.

SETLIST @ The Raconteurs @ The Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee 7/14/2019 (via)
Consoler of the Lonely
Bored and Razed
Level
Old Enough
You Don’t Understand Me
Don’t Bother Me
Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness) (Donovan cover)
Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)
Together
Help Me Stranger
Sunday Driver

Encore:
Salute Your Solution
Hands
Only Child
Carolina Drama
Steady, as She Goes

photos by James Richards IV

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