Jack White’s love for the thematic has spread to The Raconteurs’ tour. That, or somebody has obviously been watching a lot of Tarantino.
For their set at The Michigan Theater Saturday night, The Raconteurs ambled onstage to the sweeping spaghetti Western romanticism of Luis Bacalov’s “The Grande Duel,” a piece prominently featured in “Kill Bill,” Quentin Tarantino’s epic platonic love letter to Uma Thurman.
The Raconteurs’s entrance provided proper foreshadowing for their darkly seductive cover of “Bang Bang,” a Nancy Sinatra song that has regained popularity due to its place on the “Kill Bill” soundtrack.
While Sinatra’s original is sweetly nostalgic, albeit slightly morbid (the chorus does revolve around the refrain “my baby shot me down”), The Raconteurs’ interpretation is devastating in its raw, passionate instrumentals and White’s vocal histrionics. Brendan Benson’s lead guitar hook – a mesmerizing pentatonic line – sets the stage for White. He climbs from a tear-stained near-whisper (“When I was five and he was six / We rode horses made of sticks / He wore black and I wore white / He would always win the fight”) to a harpy’s shriek for the chorus. Guttural blasts of rhythm guitar and cannon-like bass coupled with Patrick Keeler pounding the hell out of the drum kit punctuated each cry of “Bang bang!”
White has long been vocal about his love of Son House’s Southern blues; he notably dedicated The White Stripes’ White Blood Cells to the legendary Loretta Lynn and subsequently produced her 2004 album Van Lear Rose. There’s something about the gritty industrial charm of Detroit rock that melds well with Southern influence. Perhaps it’s a shared musical aesthetic. Adding the pop polish of Benson and gravity provided by fellow Midwesterners Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence allows The Raconteurs to flesh out “Bang Bang” in a way The White Stripes were approaching with their roughed up “Jolene.”
With “Jolene,” and now this, White is on a roll with cover song choices. Let’s hope The Raconteurs record and release this one as well.