Live - White Stripes break US tour to wow London audience

The White Stripes canít seem to keep away from London. The brother/sister, guitar/drums duo have played three gigs there this year, as well as recording their new single in the town. And their affection for London is matched only by Londonersí affection for them.

After being adorned on the front cover of influential UK music weekly NME last year, the British national press and even stuffy BBC Radio 4 declared them the next "Next Big Thing." A-list celebrities like Kate Moss were to be seen at their gigs.

The national hype fizzled out, and the zeitgeist junkies deserted. But the crowd at last nightís gig at the intimate 2000-capacity Shepherds Bush Empire in West London proved that the ëStripes had picked-up some committed fans on that initial wave of publicity. Among the sea of red T-shirts were fans that knew not just the charting singles "Hotel Yorba" and "Fell in Love With a Girl," but had a working knowledge of the entire WS back catalogue.

Credible B-listers Brian Molko (Placebo), Chris Martin (Coldplay) and Tim Wheeler (Ash) were all present, but were relatively unbothered by other audience members who were here for one thing and one thing only ñ Jack and Megís rock candy.

The siblings seemed strengthened by this dedication. The usually unconversational Jack spoke confidently to the audience between songs: at one point he asked the Londoners if they would form an orderly queue after the show so he could audition to be each of their friends. As usual, Meg (the coy minx) barely glanced towards the audience, but significantly, she felt secure enough to provide most of the vocals on "Rated X."

Lasting appeal of mass proportions was always unlikely for this quirky little two-piece ñ their intimate cabaret would be lost in arenas, let alone stadiums. Theyíd better leave those aspirations to other emerging contemporaries like The Strokes or The Vines. But it would also be inaccurate to describe the ëStripes appeal as merely cult. Monday sees the release of a White Stripes "tribute" EP by an outfit calling themselves Diffírent Stripes ñ thatís cult. But the real Jack and Meg are a more significant phenomenon, likely to maintain a continual but marginal appeal ñ but liable to influence music on a much wider scale.

Source: Nick Oakley - London, England

Live - White Stripes break US tour to wow London audience