City Slang: Remembering the White Stripes

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In 2005, I was still living in London and loving Detroit with a passion bordering obsession from afar. I had visited the city but hadn’t yet sorted myself out to move here. So when the White Stripes came to London in 2005 (supported by Blanche) I was there at the front, wearing a Lions shirt and dancing like a goon. I reviewed the show for Classic Rock and this is what I said

The White Stripes

The Alexandra Palace, London

Detroit’s White Stripes are now five albums into their career and, not only are they getting more popular every year, they’re also getting better. Suspicions that they were merely a novelty band were laid to rest some time ago, as was the sense of surprise that they can make so much noise with just two people. Hell, people are even starting to view them as a ‘proper band’.

Tonight is simply another Stripes show; they don’t really strain themselves or pull out all of the stops, yet they still thrill and excite with a set packed with excellent garage-rock. Jack White is, of course, the star, though Meg, while not the greatest drummer by any stretch of the imagination, is somehow just as integral to the band’s sound. Like The Velvet Underground with Moe Tucker, The White Stripes need that sloppy beat-keeping within their traditional, yet somehow unorthodox, blues-rock.

Yes, The Hardest Button To Button, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, Hotel Yorba and new single The Denial Twist are all given an airing, as is their haunting version of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. But with the Stripes, it’s less about specific songs and more about the experience, the feel. Sometimes, the duo don’t even finish a song if they get bored playing it, instead moving on to something that will keep their passion up to a premium.

Hyped to the hilt they may be, but Jack and Meg still put on one of the best shows in contemporary rock ‘n’ roll.


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