People have been banging on about the White Stripes since way back when The Strokes were just a glint in Albert Hammond Snr's eye. It was only recently that I fully clicked with them being any good - with the song As Ugly As I Seem. Sure, Seven Nation Army is great, but the whole it's-recorded-on-genuine-analogue-equipement-that's-why-it-sounds-badly-produced vibe never did it for me. Pet Sounds, or Houses Of The Holy managed to get their levels right.
Anyway, suffice to say that when they are playing live, the whole recording/production thing becomes old news - as it's all the same volume, right in front of you. And it's LOUD. Who would have though that a guitar and drums could make such a thundering racket. 'Especially with (ahem) a girl hitting the skins'.
Jack White is a genuine band leader with a huge stage presence, and while he stomps around bossing Meg about, you do get the feeling it's just for show and the band really is equally indebted to both him and Meg. Her relentless, basic, pounding drumming really creates an atmosphere while he swaps guitars, tinkles on the piano or organ, and plays the Xylophone.
Yes, Blue Orchid and Seven Nation Army were stomping highlights, but tough versions of the Hardest Button To Button and Fell In love With A Girl also stood out, plus Meg singing on Passive Manipulation, the infectious simplicity of My Doorbell, or the superb Xylophone tune The Nurse and the sing-along (chorus only, see below) I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself.
Only downside was way too many people (8000+?), and a slight sense that the band had got too big too quick. While everyone new the tunes when Jack held up the mike for a sing-a-long, no one actually new the words...
CORRECTION: Jack White plays a marimba not a xylophone. They are similar, but the xylophone has a more harsh sound and doesn't have resonators. It's absolutely a marimba on the album. - CN