Arriving at the Bowery Ballroom Sunday night for a much anticipated night of garage style bluesy rock 'n' roll ñ I was delighted to walk in the room and hear AC DCís 1976 "High Voltage" on the PA. Ok, this is a great segue - I hoped. At 11:30, I didnít need to hope anymore as Jack and Meg came out and ripped right into "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground." "Weíre the White Stripes," Jack said, "I am Jack White and this is my sister Meg. I have bronchitis tonight, I will do my best to sound the best I can."
The stage has very little on it but donít let that indicate the amount of power to come. Meg came out in a red sleeveless shirt with white pants. Jack was in a red t-shirt and red pants. Megís drum kit was a white Pearl kit with a bass drum head that was the trademark candy cane striped circle. Jack has his 3 guitars ñ 2 of which are red and white and one acoustic. That trademark guitar of his looks like a toy we had growing up. There is a keyboard with a mike with white roses on it. There are two mics for Jack ñ one in the center of the stage and the other , which is always distorted, is right in front of Megís kit. Jack will rotate on the two. He did so after "Dead Leaves" as he walked over to the distortion mic to launch into the second tune "I Think I Smell A Rat."
It is simply unbelievable that there are only 2 people on stage. The crashing blues sound of Hendrix meets Clapton meets Ramones meets the best preacher you ever heard growing up, leads you to believe there are at least 5 or 6 on stage.
Jack is one of the best blues/rock guitarists going and he has incredible energy ñ even with the bronchitis. Meg can hold a beat as her and her extra long drumsticks and bare feet, were pounding the skins all night as she shook her shoulders back and forth in such a sexy way , youíd think you were in high school with her dancing at the prom. The room was filled with Meg wanna-bes dressed in long pigtails and white and red. "I love you Meg" was shouted on many occasions in between songs and she let out a shy smile. Those cats should have gone to the merch stand to buy the "I Love Meg" buttons afterwards.
The set moved along with highlights such as "Apple Blossom," "Little Room," "Youíre Pretty Good Looking," "Little Bird," "Hello Operator" and a crowd pleasing "Hotel Yorba." Also two of my personal favorites "Truth Doesnít Make a Noise" and "Weíre Going to Be Friends" (my sonís favorite).
There are two things important to me when I see a band: are the tunes good, I mean really good, and how is the live performance? Any fan knows the answer to question one if youíve listened to any of their three records. They are talented. Period. They are for real and 100% raw. Period. These cats are musicians and talented and care about the sound of their songs (Jack was tuning his guitar in between every song and even pulled a string out of one in frustration when the sound wasnít good during one song.) The second question was a strong yes as well and confirmed by the second verse in the opening song.
Jack said they told him to cancel the show because he wasnít feeling well. But he said, no, he wouldnít do it. And he asked Meg ñ and she said not to either ñ (he then said that was the first thing Meg said to him in 6 months). The guy is a comedian, too. He apologized endlessly about his hoarse voice and not to think he was mad at anyone but thatís just how his voice sounded.
Encore came and Jack and Meg did a duo of a tune with a chorus called "X Rated". Meg has a sexy voice. They then launched into "Iím Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman." The only tune missing for me was "Fell In Love with a Girl." But if Jack wasnít feeling 100%, then heís entitled. But if this was Jack not feeling well, then the roof would have come off if he was in good health. They have one more night in NY at Bowery tonight, so by all means, come see the rock and roll spectacle that is The White Stripes live.