The Raconteurs stopped by The Moody Theater in Austin, TX for a return to PBS‘ Austin City Limits Live, supporting their latest album, Help Us Stranger. The show, which was recorded last fall, aired on Saturday.
The six-song video of the set featured Help Us Stranger tracks like “Sunday Driver” and “Help Me Stranger”, as well as older Raconteurs staples like “Top Yourself” and “Steady As She Goes”. They began with “Now That You’re Gone”, and frontman Jack White showed off one of his newest toys: a gold “Fort Knox” edition Gibson Les Paul with a gold Bigsby bridge, maple neck, and a black killswitch.
“Now That You’re Gone” showcased fellow frontman Brendan Benson‘s songwriting. The song tells the story of a man struggling with a breakup—highlighted by petty and resentful behavior. Lines like “Where you gonna go?/Not that I care!” conflict with others like “What will I do now that you’re gone?”. Additionally, that contrast is evident in White’s guitar playing as well. He consistently interjected in the soft-rock sounds of the verse with his signature high-gain leads.
Drummer Patrick Keeler led them into the next song, “Sunday Driver”. White took over lead vocals on the uptempo track while Benson aided with harmonies and lead guitar phrases. Dean Fertita—who normally sits comfortably behind his keyboards—added guitar licks of his own.
After “Help Me Stranger”, they launched into the fan-favorite “Top Yourself”. White broke out his new Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster for this number. Meanwhile, Benson played slide guitar as bassist Jack Lawrence nestled himself in a tight rhythm pocket and provided harmonizing vocals. Midway through, White switched over to his new all-gold Gibson Firebird before a short improv section that segued to a cover of Donovan‘s “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)”. They finished the set with “Steady As She Goes”, the lead track off their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers.
In a post-show interview, White and Benson discussed the state of rock n’ roll. “Rock n’ roll, since the ’50s, has been proclaimed dead dozens of times.” He went on to describe how interest in the genre is cyclical, as well as the difficulty in capturing an audience,
“It’s just outstanding to be able to hold anybody’s attention, especially nowadays, for 10 seconds. I’m always shocked when somebody digs a song. There was a time in popular music where it would have been suicide for artists to write their own songs and perform them and record them themselves. Nobody would have taken to it…We grew up in the time period with independent music where there are no rules, and because of that… I try to make up my own rules to compensate…box myself in.”
Watch the entire performance and interview below.
The Raconteurs – Austin City Limits Live
A setlist for the entire show, including songs not contained in the video, is available below.
Setlist: The Raconteurs | The Moody Theater | Austin City Limits Live | Austin, TX | 10/3/2019
Set: Bored and Razed, Don’t Bother Me, Only Child, You Don’t Underestimate Me, Shine the Light on Me, Now That You’re Gone, Sunday Driver, Help Me Stranger, Thoughts and Prayers, Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying), Old Enough, Top Yourself > Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness), Steady As She Goes, Carolina Drama