The White Stripes / The Go / The Whirlwind Heat - Manchester Apollo - 8.4.03

Sister Brother Wedded Love - a necessary feature of any self respecting White Stripes review and here we are throwing it away at the start. It would be the last time we had to mention it as well if it wasn't for Jack & Meg playing up to the audience throughout tonight's show and while it would certainly be more Scandalous that Misteeq if they in fact turned out to be both married and siblings those who have watched Brookside throughout the years will realize it's all a bit old hat.

There's just a real indefinable feeling about what makes The White Stripes work. At those early UK dates we'd have been the first to admit that while Jack and Meg blew you away there was an underlying feeling that there wasn't a great deal of  longevity in the stripped back raw blues soundtrack. Indeed when you consider that the warm up bands The Go and The Whirlwind Heat also hail from Detroit and have been given the thumbs up by Mr White it's clear that lightning only strikes once and that the garage scene is going back underground in the near future. Trust me when I say don't see these bands - they're even worse than 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster.

With a backdrop of cartoons my mood manages to pick up a little following aural damage from the support bands. The lights dim. Meg takes her places stage left at the drums. Jack joins her. Sits beside her and gives her a loving glance. It couldn't be more perfect. It couldn't be more White Stripes. Few bands can take the leap for underground urchins to playing theatres but between the two of them the colossal assault of "Black Math" makes it's mark. "I Think I Smell A Rat" brings back a taste of the familiar, but it's their cover of "Jolene" which is the first highlight of the show. When Jack sings "Jolene, please don't take my man" the heart flutters and we all can wish but it's not to be. Somewhat more bizarrely is the fact that Una from Crossroads sung an atrocious Karaoke version a few days previous and being a culture slut I couldn't help but be taken back to the Motel for a moment.

"You're Pretty Good Looking For A Girl", "Hotel Yorba" and "Seven Nation Army" side by side is just too much. Condensing the best moments of their last 3 albums into a greatest hits section with Jack stopping "Hotel Yorba" half way through so he and Meg can sing it acapella. It's not the first time Meg takes centre stage as later she takes sings "In The Cold Cold Night" from the number 1 smash "Elephant". Forthcoming single "Seven Nation Army" does not I repeat feature bass as lesser publications have reported and tonight Jack plays his octave shifting guitar for all to see.

At the end of tonight's show I can't decide who I'm in love with more. Meg's innocent wide eyed perfection or Jacks maniacal demented steely eyed stare. The Stripes surprise me each and every time and as a band it's becoming less and less about the Jack White show and more about placing Meg firmly in the picture. It's a unique relationship between that is unlikely to ever be unravelled completely but if it creates music as joyful as this then who are we to comment on what goes on behind closed doors.

Alex McCann

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