Jack White Goes Fully Bizarro at Raconteurs Show

Boy, Meg has really let herself go. Photo: Ryan Muir

The Raconteurs position themselves as garage superstars led by songwriter and singer Brendon Benson and not at all overshadowed by that guy from the White Stripes. This façade immediately crumbled Friday night at Terminal 5 when, after an opening set by the excellent blues impurists the Black Keys Lips, a series of slim young men in matching gray pin-striped vests and derbies started setting up their instruments. As each one mounted the stage, he was met with howls of delight that quickly died when the crowd realized that no, it wasn't Jack White.

When the man did appear, White looked very nearly dapper in his loose-fitting brown slacks and mirror- and rhinestone-spangled vest. As he's transformed himself from upholstery-shop boy to grand poobah (and most dedicated disciple) of the Cult of Jack White, it was interesting to see him channeling Liberace, his co-star John C. Reilly in Walk Hard, and seventies-era Elvis — and seeming less like the black-and-red-clad cartoon known to White Stripes fans. White knows what he's doing, and he wants you to know, too: He had a mike set up in front of a mirror so he could turn his back on the audience, admire his glorious self — and watch his fans, too.

Did the band rock? Sure. They're such pros that you could hardly tell their songs are neither as catchy or as elemental as even the weaker White Stripes tunes. The highlight wasn't a new song: It was “Blue Veins” (off their first album), one of the best Led Zeppelin covers ever written. At show's end, the crowd seemed satisfied but ready to move on, as if they had work the next morning. Of course, it was Friday night. —Miska Shubaly