When the Raconteurs recorded their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, Jack White, Brendan Benson and Greenhornes rhythm vets Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler hadn't even played a show together yet. So it makes sense that after playing dozens of shows together, the band has started to jell.

When the Raconteurs recorded their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, Jack White, Brendan Benson and Greenhornes rhythm vets Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler hadn't even played a show together yet. So it makes sense that after playing dozens of shows together, the band has started to jell.

The Raconteurs have created a new album worthy of their talented members, and on Monday night at the open-air version of the LC Pavilion, they put on a thrilling concert.

White has clearly learned how to fill a stage playing as a duo with Meg in the White Stripes. He possesses a charisma that reached to the back wall of the lawn, but not because of over-the-top antics of any sort (though he does wield a mean guitar). He's one of the rare performers whose mere presence can inspire the musicians around him and demand the eyes and ears of concertgoers.

But this wasn't just the Jack White Show. It was truly all about chemistry, as co-leader Benson held his own with a voice more complementary than comparable to White's, and Keeler's outstanding drumming served as a touchstone for the other members of the Nashville-based band to play off each other in surprising and unforced ways.

The Raconteurs' blues-rock sound is classic rock-inspired, for sure. The band even covers late-'60s Brit rocker Terry Reid's "Rich Kid Blues" on Consolers of the Lonely, and on Monday night Benson sang it with gusto before the song merged into a trippy breakdown that briefly became the Doors' "The End" before ramping back up. That tactic was a common one in the performance-"You Don't Understand Me" went from a ballad, with White on piano, to a rocker and then back again.

But the best use of the loud-quiet-loud device was on the first-set closer, "Blue Veins." The extended guitar-jam intro would have disguised the number if it weren't for Lawrence's distinctive bass line providing the bluesy backbone to what was probably the best song of the night. The band built the anticipation to its peak right before stopping as White delivered the first line, "When I was surrounded you were the only one who came," followed by sharp guitar blasts punctuating the backbeat. Later in the song, White's lead-guitar skills took center stage as the band went silent to highlight his Jimmy Page-style attack. It was the type of jamming that served the song rather than detracting from it.

Right before the closing song of the encore, the Raconteurs blasted through the first single off the new record, "Salute Your Solution." It's a near-perfect classic rock/pop song: rocking, grooving, bluesy, gritty, catchy and frenzied enough to avoid the stylistic clichés that come along with the genre.

An Atlanta band, the Black Lips, proved to be a worthy opener for the most part. The band's garage rock comes with lots of punk flavor and is slightly Southern-fried.

The Lips were messy and scruffy; one of the singer/guitarists had a stain-covered shirt and liked to spit, which isn't that weird for a rock band, but even when he accidentally (I think) spit all over his face, he didn't bother to clean it up until a couple of songs later. Still, judging from what I've heard about their earlier shows (puking on each other, playing guitar with their junk), I guess the Black Lips are fairly tame now.

"Bad Kids" and "Katrina" were pretty good, and "Dirty Hands" is a particularly great song, merging hillbilly rock and '60s pop on the hilariously appropriate chorus: "Do you really wanna hold my dirty hand?"

None of the four members can really sing, but that's OK. It would sound weird if their voices were too pretty. The digital vocal effects were forced and didn't really fit the vibe the band's going for, but the main thing the band suffered from was the venue. It's not the LC's fault, it's just that the Black Lips belong in a small, dingy rock club.

But it's a rare group of musicians that can convey its stuff all the way to that back wall.

-Joel Oliphint

Frenzied gypsies leave listeners in a lather

Pretty much you can sum up the über-exuberance of Gogol Bordello's Wild East show at the Newport Tuesday night with the lyrics from "American Wedding":

"I understand the cultures/of a different kind/But here word celebration/Just doesn't come to mind."

Celebration and nothing but put 600 Bordello fans into a cross-cultural dance frenzy of sheer joy, led by the mad Russian (Ukrainian, actually) Pied Piper himself, expatriate Eugene Hutz. Hutz's chutzpah elevates the show higher than a Sputnik-there is simply no one like him on the scene, and perhaps there never has been.

Visually, imagine Frank Zappa with Yanni-esque head shakes and wearing comic hobo pants, coupled with Iggy Pop's energy and the wild-eyed charisma of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Yes, picture that-for a start.

Hutz and his crew zoom past any and all caricatures, especially Borat-though you could be forgiven for that association given Hutz's insane antics with the red fire bucket. As a band, Bordello hyper-successfully unites the speed of punk with Eastern European gypsy melodies and no small amount of cabaret theatricality.

Sounds crazy, eh? If nothing else, it's fabulously entertaining.

But it is more than that. For one thing, Hutz's band-drums, bass, guitar, DJ, fiddler and two exotic dancing girls with a marching bass drum and hand-held cymbals-is almost Zappa-esque in its ability to pursue complex compositions while never losing the gypsy flavor.

Between verses, the musicians engage in high-energy instrumentalizing while Hutz careens maniacally in circles and to the very edge of the stage, leaning far into the audience's sphere. His acoustic guitar playing is crucial to the band's rhythmic anchor, as he often slaps the strings with both hands to keep a klezmer-style groove going.

But it's the goddam choruses that pull you in, as in "Alcohol" or "Super Taranta!" or "Start Wearing Purple": You could easily think you're in the 48th hour of a marathon hoe-down somewhere outside of Kiev.

This infamous Russian madness was for real Tuesday evening, and by the end of Gogol's super-encore, a collective feeling of sweat-drenched liberation the likes of which I haven't experienced in years was the night's crowning achievement.

Two years ago at Bernie's, Gogol's explosion of a show left me wondering how the group was going to top itself. But it's made the move from little club to major club without sacrificing one shot of vodka's worth of fun and meaningful nuttiness. Seldom-and I mean really seldom-has an entire band merged with its audience for a more united concert experience.

Make no mistake, a major cultural breakthrough occurred in our square little ville Tuesday night. If this is what a Ukrainian wedding is like, we just might need to update our passports.

Thank you, Eugene, you balletic heathen, for showing us how afraid we are to sweat our way to our real selves.