The White Stripes
Manchester Apollo
Thursday 17th November 2005

White Stripes

All good things must come to an end, and this was true for Detroit duo The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan UK tour, and where better to end it than the rustic theatre venue of Manchester Apollo, which was tonight bursting at the seams. The stage was donned with décor that resembled an old-fashioned music store, with an arrangement of guitars stage left, glockenspiel hiding at the back of the stage, and a variety of percussive instruments stage right. The white trees and vibrant red cloth backdrop gave the stage a warm, maybe Christmas feel.

All that was needed were a couple of finishing touches and the set up would be complete, and thankfully we did not have too long to wait. Dressed in a full on matador get up Jack ambled onto the stage, followed by Meg in traditional White Stripes traditional clothing.

Hi I'm three quid, and this is my sister Penny Farthing shouted Jack, introducing us to the duo's new aliases before pounding (sorry) into the breathtaking recent single "Blue Orchid," the start of shrieking falsettos and endless riffs, a warmly, rather hotly received opener.

A magical rendition of "Dead Leaves On The Dirty Ground" certainly cast it's spell across the attentive and energetic audience, who were also in fine voice, and an emotive cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" followed suit with it's dramatic, and passionate nature.

"My Doorbell" saw Jack stroll over to his piano for some impressive playing which was met by Meg's playful, but play as though you mean it, percussion, showing they really know how to work the stage, their instruments, songs, and the crowd, emphasised by Jack's flirtatious nature:
If you marry a Mancunian, does that make you a Mancunian? He says, I'll take my chances he confides to the sound of rapturous screams of fans that had just had their night made.

The short and sweet but very rousing "Hotel Yorba" sounded as brilliant as ever, and very energetic with relentless riffs and urgent vocals, and it proved as ever that Jack is a definite showman oozing charisma, and acting up with relentless struts, riffage, and head tossing., without coming across as a show-off, and never using it as a replacement for the music, which was constant quality.

The rootsy and raw "I Think I Smell A Rat" was striking and created a enthusiastic sing-along, not to mention seeing Jack ambling round the different parts of the stage, leaning over slightly to various parts of the crowd, like a singer or violinist serenading dining couples in a restaurant. It was as if by magic, a simple nod and a wink was all that was needed, and as though speaking in their own language, Jack and Meg immediately knew what riff, or rhythm to play with not so much as a word, let alone a set list. This was to be said for the trio of songs that followed, opening with the rapturous "Fell In Love With A Girl" which oozed shrieking but harmonious vocals.

Sandwiched between was the wonderful "Apple Blossom" creating a romantic interlude, and rounding things off nicely was the magical acoustic "I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends" the latter 2 giving the feel of a warm Christmas or camp fire sing along feel.

It was like watching a gig, mind reading act and magicians show all in one, and this is certainly not the only wavelength the pair share, and between them create a sound louder than most average sized bands I have seen live.

Back to the present times, here is a song that is battling for the number 1 spot against … said Jack, keeping us in suspense as to who the war was between…The Black Eyed Peas: My Humps said Jack, and…The Sugababes, to meaningful shows of disdain from the audience in the form of a chorus of boooos. It was straight into the slightly off kilter sounds, but popular single The Denial Twist, which may not have made the said number 1, but which has certainly struck a chord between fans of the band and decent music.

A hauntingly familiar bass line sound kicked in and the immediate response was electric with the excitement echoing up to the rafters. Soon an equally familiar drumbeat joined matching perfectly, and this wasn't even the one many had been waiting for, but still a strong contender, as The classic, "Hardest Button To Button" hit full strength. A short interlude from huge hits and timeless favourites took place in the form of the equally wonderful "Boll Weevil" which struck a chord and received a more than warm reception.

As if the following track required an introduction, it most certainly deserved one, and Jack obviously agreed. A famous Manchester musician once said get a bass, well here's what I say said Jack kicking in with 7 nation army, the bass line to end all bass lines, without a bass. The reaction and reverberations even shook the balcony, proving the crowd obviously agreed, with everyone who wasn't already on their feet, getting to their feet for a rapturous dance and sing along moment which ended the enigmatic set in style, rounded off with courteous bows from the duo. Thank you Jack and Meg!

Kathryn Tomlinson

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