November 19, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 45  

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The White Stripes
Hershey Centre
Mississauga, ON
Thu., Nov. 13, 2003

One guy, one girl, a drumset, a guitar and an organ. The White Stripes may be sparse in their instrumentation, but they can still put on a whale of a show.

The "brother-and-sister" (wink wink) act of Jack and Meg White hit the Hershey Centre with a tight 90-minute set highlighting their entire discography, from B-sides like "Jolene" to the hit single "Seven Nation Army" (which closed the show) and a cool half-tempo version of "Fell in Love With A Girl."

This concert was originally supposed to take place in August, but was postponed due to Jack breaking his finger in a car accident. Time has not healed all wounds (Jack was wearing a splint and used some unusual fingering of chords), but his actual guitar-playing was none the worse for wear. He ripped into several impressive solos with only a bit of help from the effects pedals. The nearly eight-minute long "Ball and Biscuit" was perhaps the instrumental highlight of the night, with Jack going hog wild while Meg kept up the tight beats.

The drumming was a bit of a surprise in and of itself. While Meg's drumming on the albums can charitably be described as "sparse," she proved to be a much more capable timekeeper in concert than on record. Frankly, most drummers would sound a little lacking without a bass pounding away to support the rhythm section. Meg is no John Bonham, but she's also not merely the monkey in the usher outfit to Jack's organ grinder.

Speaking of organs, Jack's keyboard playing - particularly on "I Want To Be The Boy That Warms Your Mother's Heart" - was a nice addition to the White Stripes' trademark bluesy-garage sound. Also speaking of organs, female fans will be pleased to know that, according to my friend Jason, Jack looked great in tight black pants. So as not to contradict Jason's sexual orientation, however, it should be noted that he also noticed Meg's camel toe during her vocals on "In the Cold, Cold Night." Ugh.

Perhaps it was the tight pants that kept the Stripes so quiet, the only flaw in an otherwise sterling show. Other than a "Hello, Canada" at the beginning of the night, a request to calm down the mosh pit and the end of the night "Thank yous," Jack and Meg didn't provide much audience interaction. One funny bit had Jack shining a klieg light towards a picture of the Queen in the Hershey Centre rafters, if for no other reason than to point out this odd tribute to a foreign monarch in the home of the Mississauga IceDogs.

Fans of the bass guitar at least had something to cheer about, as the opening act, Whirlwind Heat, featured two bassists and a drummer. They delivered an energetic set that perked the crowd up in the midst of the other pre-show attraction, a seemingly endless amount of Betty Boop and L'il Lulu cartoons.

-Mark Polishuk



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