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Thursday, August 18, 2005  

It Takes Two
I’m a little ashamed to admit, but I came to the table pretty late. The first time I ever heard the White Stripes was when they played “Fell In Love With A Girl” to a throng of matching fans at the MTV VMAs in 2002. I clearly remember thinking “who are these people, and why does everyone else seem to know who they are?” I wasn’t an instant fan, but once I had listened to White Blood Cells a few times I was hooked. Last night I finally was able to see them live at the famous Greek Theater.

The show was simply awesome. They kick-ed off with a double-time version of “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground” and then slid smoothly into a 10-15 minute medley of several songs including a very different version of “Blue Orchid.” I was unprepared for the power of their opening volley, which was 100minutes+ of peaking crescendo w/o all that messy foreplay: A live-music quickie, an appetizer before the banquet. After this medley Jack and Meg left the stage and when they returning a few minutes later jack explained, “I wanted to make you think we were playing an encore, so maybe you would make some noise for the first time tonight.” And with that they launched into their full-set. As this was their 3rd of four nights playing the Greek, they seemed to stray-off the beaten path and play a lot of b-sides and album tracks while glossing over nearly all of their big singles. I have to say I’m the tiniest bit disappointed that they didn’t play more of my favorites. No “Ball and Biscuit” or “Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine,” or “Jolene,” or “I’m Bound to Pack it Up,” or perhaps most missed “Red Rain.” But they did play a blistering version of my #1 favorite song, “Death Letter” (which I hadn’t let myself hope they would play) that had the most incredibly intense and face-melting slide-guitar solo, so that just about made up for it.

They stretched their wings a bid and branched out from drum-and-guitar-blues-rock with Jack playing (his newly acquired) Stienway on several songs. Jack also took-up the Mandolin for a the jangly “Little Ghost,” Meg played tympanis (and a triangle) for the brief “Passive Manipulation,” and during “Ugly as I Seem” Jack quietly played a worn acoustic while Meg sat next to him on the stage and played a bongo. However, the giant marimba that dominated center-stage was left untouched (which I didn’t terribly mind as the songs that feature it are not among my favorites.) Jack was energetic and convulsive on-stage and he flailed-and-wailed his way through the 90-minute set. Meg infused her drumming with a sultry swagger that I found tough to look-away from. She has to be the hottest woman in rock, and had we been closer to the stage I would have been tempted to do whatever the male equivalent of throwing panties onto the stage.

One of the biggest highlights of the night came when they remounted the stage for the encore, this time joined by a third. Jack sidled up to the mic and mumbled, “Mr Beck Hanson.” That’s right “Silverlake’s Own” (as Jack would later remark) Beck and Jack shared a mic as they played Beck’s"Cold Brains". He then took-up the bass for a swinging version of “Denial Twist” that really brought the house down (my voice is still jacked from all the “woo”ing.) Beck slipped backstage again and the twosome finished off the night with their live staple “Bol Weevil.” I had very high expectations for the show, and even though their set-list and my wish-list didn’t overlap as much as I would have liked, The White Stripes surpassed them all. I only wish I had tickets for tonight’s show…

UPDATE: I found a complete set-list of the show here.

posted by JMV | 8/18/2005 12:08:00 PM
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