The White Stripes, Zénith, Paris
Tuesday 18 October 2005
Jack White marches on in a top hat, and the first, distorted chord of his guitar brings the curtain down behind him, revealing a huge apple hovering menacingly above a tropical bay - the Garden of Eden?
It's an appropriate framing for the psychodrama to be played out across Meg's bright red drumkit. In the past, the tension between the pair seemed immediate and real. Inevitably, it's more of a show now. But when Jack sweetly intones the closing lines of Bob Dylan's "Love Sick" to Meg's face, and she deigns to hit her drum softly, for once, you can't fault the acting.
To start, Jack appears bionically attached to his guitar. Grinding out the riff to "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground", every stroke of his right hand has its corresponding jolt of the head as he moonwalks from Meg.
This year's Get Behind Me Satan album, light on guitars, proved the Stripes' ability to vary their sound within their own constraints. The swiftly recorded album was criticised for sounding undercooked, and live performance does nothing to remedy that. Ever restless, Jack is constantly experimenting with new ways to sing his songs - some of which make him sound like a small dog in pain.
But what songs they are: "Forever for Her (Is Over for Me)", "Little Ghost", "Red Rain" - to name only the cuts from Get Behind Me Satan - combine inspired tunes with wonderfully skewed takes on love and morality. Then there are the classic rockers from 2003's Elephant: "The Hardest Button To Button" and "Seven Nation Army" both set an arena of fists a-pounding.
There are still moments when it doesn't come together and the chaotic noise gets wearing. But even these seem to fit the package: unrehearsed passion and stylised performance, nostalgia and modernity, Jack's machismo and vulnerability. In rock music today, there is nothing even remotely like them.
The White Stripes tour Britain from 5 to 17 November
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Game of Thrones season 5: Emilia Clarke praises characters who 'accept their femininity'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate