White Stripes Live at Alexandra Palace

By Andrew Future || 26 January 2004
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Free from bloodshed and fighting but sadly the atmosphere and claustrophobic sting of the Stripes' caustic blues also get lost amidst the emptiness of Ally Pally.

Alexandra Palace - 20th January

Anyone who can slap the living bejesus out of indie’s prettiest singer (Jason Von Bondie) and still have enough marbles to come play to the venomous vacuums of Ally Pally with his chubby-armed sister is a better Bluesman than you. Still, there’s something fervently dark about Jack White’s exaggerated and cartoonish expressions that punctuate their ‘not-exactly-laugh-a-minute’ set and make it just a little more worthwhile than every other ten-a-penny garage band.

Let’s cut the crap though and be honest here. Musically, it’s shite. The drumming is terrible – Meg White cannot keep time for fuck and makes Tony McCarol look like Jimmy Chamberlain. Jack White is brilliant at what he does, but needs a better medium for his potential. The rawness of having just one barely-tuned guitar is a novelty and nothing more. A bass would heartily improve the music as the multi de-tuned layers of 'Seven Nation Army' showed and though stripped down rawness is cool and works on record, without the confines that their basement club origins offer the sound is empty and the biggest anthem of last year comes out a gutless shadow of itself.

Still, a tune is a tune as they say, and 'Hotel Yorba' leads the charge for beer-baiting Oasis-fan singalongs, whilst 'Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground' is as thrilling as ever. Jack’s moog action works well, and with the host of covers including 'Shine On Harvest Moon'. But for every 'We’re Going To Be Friends' they play, there’s a good portion of fretwanking guitar buggery that would make even metal kids cringe.

It’s honourable that the Stripes haven’t sold-out their sound for the huge stage, but I doubt Jack White would argue that this just don’t work without the sweat dripping off the walls and the floor sticking to your feet.


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