Sunday, July 8, 2007
REVIEW- The White Stripes at the John Labatt Centre London 07/07/2007
There was a time, not long ago that rock n’ roll was an enervating, hypersexual and even dangerous thing. Mick and Keith ruled the walk with a bad-ass attitude and a six string Gibson SG. To borrow from Oscar Wilde they were mad, bad and dangerous to know. It was outlaw stuff, the kind of thing your parents warned you about. Rather unfortunately, things were about to change. And change they did. Rock n’ roll would become a safe, if not somewhat bland
commodity. Pity too that the devil was no longer in the details, (at least not on stage). Last night though, a pair of untouchably cool musicians visited London for the first time and reminded us all of that true essence of rock n’ roll. (Second time if you count the secret gig at the Arva Flour Mill that afternoon.) The White Stripes came to town and literally blew us all away.
I love this band, as I have for more than a few years now. A small club date in Toronto in 2002 pretty much sealed that for me. Then, like last night Jack White was dressed in red, motor mouthed, and on fire with his 1964 JB Hutto Montgomery Airline guitar. With his coy grin and mop of black curls White was there to capture more than a few souls. He makes rock music look effortless, and to hear his razor sharp voice tackle a song like Icky Thump early on left me awe struck. I knew this would be a special evening when the belt he was wearing was launched into the audience. At last someone had remembered to put the devil back on the guest list!
Jack White is only one half of this dynamic crimson duo though. Meg, Jack’s “older sister” behind the peppermint/button drums was just as captivating. Keeping perfect time and matching Jack note for note with only the subtlest of cues Meg provided a solid percussive foundation . Not once was the crowd happier than when she came up front and sang In the Cold, Cold Night. Demure and oh so sexy, Meg had us in the palm of her hand at the first note.
Detractors will say the White’s strip mining of old blues formulas is what pigeon-holes them. This, at least in my opinion is what sets them apart. Their formula is their own, the resultant chemistry, pure magic. They play happily, recklessly and unaffected. White, simply put, can sing better than pretty much everyone else out there today. Who wasn’t touched last night when White, exposed under just a single dancehall disco ball dazzled with his acoustic take on We’re Going to Be Friends?
At the end of the show, joking about their red and white colours being, nationally, ours, (the maple leaves on the Fender amplifiers were a great touch). - Jack paraded around a huge Province of Ontario flag. At that moment the White Stripes were ours to claim, they certainly captured our hearts for the evening. You can't get much more rock n' roll than that.
Opener, Alabama upstart Dan Sartain got the ball rolling with his distinctive blend of rockabilly numbers.
White Stripes set list. Thank you Jonathon Kade for your much better power of recall.
Dead Leaves And the Dirty Ground
Medley: Cannon/I'm Slowly Turning Into You
Medley: Astro/Jack the Ripper
The Union Forever
We're Going To Be Friends (introduced as "What's your problem? Why can't we be friends?")
Medley: The Big Three Killed My Baby/Little Cream Soda (interpolating lyrics from Big Three)/Astro reprise/I Think I Smell a Rat
You Don't Know What Love Is
Hardest Button to Button
Second set:Blue Orchid
Medley: I'm Finding it Harder to be a Gentleman/Party of Special Things to Do
Apple Blossom (+ announcement that someone in the audience had something to ask someone else - probably a marriage proposal)
Seven Nation Army
I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself
In The Cold, Cold Night
A Martyr For My Love For You
Catch Hell Blues