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Original review was published in August of 2005:
When you watch those old black and white videos of the Beatles the thing that stands out most are the young girls going insane and crying. It also makes you wonder why they have such an animated reaction to a band.
The rabidity of Beatle-mania made them throw themselves on each other and create so much noise that the band could no longer tour at a certain point. Granted, back when they played stadiums the Beatles used fewer amps than most bands use for a show at a local coffee shop on a Thursday night, but the experience was so great the tears flowed and the screams deafened.
To me it is a wonder why The White Stripes don’t create that extreme of a reaction everywhere they play. You get that lump in your throat where you could burst into tears from the excitement, but you stop it, because times have changed. Their show at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis last Saturday (Aug. 27th) was just that good.
The White Stripes have been around for years now and are in their peak. Jack White has starred in a few movies with the most notable being the mandolin player in Cold Mountain. He produced, played on and co-wrote an album last summer with coal girl Loretta Lynn called Van Lear Rose. Joss Stone recorded his song, “Fell in love with a girl” and went on to win a Grammy. Van Lear Rose also won the Grammy for best country album last year.
Jack White is something new that rock has waited so long for, like a breath of fresh air into a stagnant musical landscape.
When the Minneapolis show began Jack and Meg came out dressed in early 1800s French military uniforms. Jack launched out of the gate on a mission, his hat tipped sharply downward, and proceeded to unleash his music on the audience. He played several songs from his new album “Get Behind Me Satan”, but many more from the other four CDs the band has released. He recorded the entire new album in his home to stay indie, using an old 8-track.
From his first tune to the last the audience were on their feet singing along word for word. This was the second of a two day stint in Minneapolis. White decided for this tour he was going to play classic venues, creating a more intimate experience. Both shows sold out the first few hours after tickets became available, and they also solidified his standing as the new king of rock & roll.
White is hard rock and a former punk rocker, but he knows how to use it. The problem today with many hard rock bands is that they don’t realize that fuzz-tone power chords are like sugar, and a hit song is like baking a cake. Sometimes you can make it too sweet, we call that metal. Sometimes it is bland like a jam band or folk, but sometimes you have the perfect combination of ingredients for the most succulent tasting recipe you will ever hear. That is what the White Stripes have, the best cake you will ever listen to.
Jimi Hendrix talked about lighting his guitar on fire and smashing it all being gimmicks for the crowd. During the show Jack Whites was taking photos of himself with a Polaroid camera and tossing them into the audience, a cool gimmick. A fight almost erupted in the row ahead of mine when a photo hit the ground instead of the many outstretched hands. He must have tossed 20 shots of himself and Meg, making for an awesome way of letting the crowd have a piece of his celebrity. It was both an indictment of the celebrity culture and a take on when bands borrow a person’s camera and take a photo from stage.
One recent article in the New Yorker talked about how Jack needs to lose Meg White because she is an average drummer at best. Watching her live makes you wonder how far up his back-end that writer must have been to make an assumption like that.
Jack controls Meg on stage and there are times when they make love musically. Talking about her style on drums Jack has said that he fell in love with her childish play. The story goes that he was playing guitar in the attic and Meg came up. He asked her to play drums and she wanted to play Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”. White was a drummer originally who learned the guitar, but he built upon her style.
Jack and Meg were married at one point and he took her last name, White. In their new song, “I’m lonely (but I’m not that lonely yet)”, one has to wonder if their relationship is referred to today. In the song he sings, “And I love my sister, lord knows how I’ve missed her. She loves me, and she knows I won’t forget. And sometimes I get jealous of all her little pets, and I get lonely, but I ain’t that lonely yet.”
The whole sister reference Jack referred to Meg as once made people think it was literal, but it was more like the brotherhood that guys speak of in bands. Jack recently married a Brazilian supermodel, but Meg is his muse on stage. She stands sexy while playing and singing along to all of the songs.
Jack White is shy on stage though. While talking to the audience he trailed off when mentioning a MN sports team for an obligatory crowd reaction. The audience missed it and he went directly into his next song instead of repeating what he said.
While talking in the press about being on stage White has said that he has so much to do in a two-person band, as opposed to bigger bands, that he never gets to just sit back and enjoy the show. Where White lacks in his live show is connecting to the audience. One of the few things he did say was that his tea was cold from sitting there since the start of the show. Performance wise he has Elvis’ country swagger mixed with David Bowie or Lou Reed’s perfected images.
People must be jaded and reserved today to not erupt for The White Stripes like they did for the Beatles forty years ago. Maybe Jack White isn’t mainstream enough, but he carries the torch for those who passed before him. He is authentic and the top songwriter in the country today. He is much like a Minnesotan who influenced even the scream soaked Beatles’ sound so long ago.. Bob Dylan
Last February The White Stripes were officially retired. I recently caught Jack White’s solo show in Portland and Seattle. Go to www.readerduluth.com to read about those shows.
Go to www.fheads.com to see some video from the 2005 show and more photos.