Showing Their True Colours
Riffs is the key word to describe this White Stripes set; be it great looming chunks of threatening guitarwork or fiddly little slides, the thing that has made The White Stripes great is the awesome power of Jack White's guitarwork to fuse itself into your skull and this headline set proves just that. The band march confidently onto their suitably red stage with the big screens instantly changing to fetching red and white monochrome, giving us a curious and vibrant view of the band.
For two people Meg and Jack seem to fill the stage, the latter moving freely about; one minute settling down at the back of the stage and the next leaning over Meg's drums to conspire to bring about a massive crescendo at the end of moving, 'Death Letter'. Meg even gets her turn at centre stage singing the slinky little number, 'In The Cold Cold Night' to rapturous applause, although of course her drumming is far from playing second trumpet to Jack as it lends a vital energy to the set.
The band open with 'Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground', settling the crowd in before bursting straight in 'Hotel Yorba' much to the delight of the now ecstatic crowd. New single, 'Icky Thump' already commands a massive cheer with an accented guitar breakdown of the main riff that really excites and has the crowd writhing beneath the grimy tone. Aside from 'Icky Thump' there are only a select few new tracks including the sweet, 'I'm Turning Into You', which sees Jack take to the red piano for a brief period before returning to his guitar for some bolshy overdriven guitarwork. 'I Think I Smell A Rat' then winds the crowd up wonderfully with sneering, slightly unhinged vocals leading into another new number, 'A Martyr For My Love For You', a slow and delicate number that builds to a passionate peak through more growling guitar licks.
The enigmatic duo's take on 'Jolene' induces a frenzy in the crowd, and so it should, very rarely have a band made a cover so much their own; a few sly lines of a stripped down and frantic 'John The Revelator' also following later. Of course, 'I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself' is an equally impressive number and comes towards the end of the set, working some sultry magic in the hit-packed closing section. 'Blue Orchid' is followed by the bluesy, strutting charm of 'The Denial Twist' before the sweet ditty, 'We're Going To Be Friends' reminds us of the variety of White Stripes' tracks and leads the audience to wonder what crazy treats they might be in for on the band's new album, 'Icky Thump'.
The White Stripes have played a brilliant set that gives fans enough of a taste of the new material, while firmly reminding us why it is that we were excited by them in the first place. The variety of their music and cool conviction with which they deliver it is a real pleasure.