The latest UK visit from the world's most popular blues duo is only days away, but The White Stripes aren't the only two-piece with a direct line to the music's primal power.
Formed in Alabama's Lee County and named after its most famously reckless musical son - Jerry "The Killer" Lee Lewis - The Immortal Lee County Killers recorded their debut album The Essential Fucked Blues in an archetypal local shotgun shack in 2000.
The album's title is still a fair indication of The Immortals' intent. But on the debut, singer guitarist Chetley "El Cheetah" Weise - heav-set, shaggy haired and cradling an outsize black Scorpion shaped guitar - was partnered by Doug "The Boss" Sherrard on drums.
The departure of The Boss and the arrival of current drummer, known simply as "The Token One", bought in new theatrical possibilities and a new quasi-evangelical stance and the Immortals' full glory could take shape.
From behind his tiny kit, the balding, bearded, whippet-thin Token One can set off the sort of centrifugal force that would frighten Jack and Meg White. He holds the packed, boisterous house enthralled with tension tightening beats, as Weise sets up an epic slow grind pitched halfway between anguish and salvation. Then he sets off a cataclysmic blizzard of foot-pedal mayhem and hi-hat anarchy, summoning up the ghost of Keith Moon from out of the fabled venue's past.
The Token One remains an eye-rolling centre of attention; even while The Cheetah's orgiastic feedback strewn guitar-orchestra-for-one is taking away the rest of what collective breath the audience have left.
The Token turns his necktie into a blindfold as they duet on John Lee Hooker's "I'll Never Get Out of these Blues Alive". It's a rendition made all the more powerful because they don't shirk the song's profundity. "That song is about the end of time," says The Cheetah.
But they can strike a light in the darkness, too. The original "Boom Boom (Yeah Yeah)" leavened the improvisational grand slams that are their speciality with the sort of pop smarts that have served Jack White so well.
Standing on his drum seat to deliver a version of Leadbelly's "Ain't Going to the Well No More" The Token One readily poses for the outstretched mobile phone cameras. The climactic "Let's Get Killed" is their riposte to Zeppelin's "Kashmir", The Stooges' "I Feel Alright" and the Book of Revelations all in one delirious 10-minute marathon meltdown.
When it's over Token takes the mic and delivers a heart-thumping sermon in a backwoods preacher style.
The music may verge on outright violence but he tells us its grounded in deep love and real faith. And we believe him.Reuse content