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The Dartmouth
June 16, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

White Stripes get surreal in Boston

By Lindsay Barnes and Carl Burnett

Walking into Boston's Orpheum Theater Sunday night, as vintage Hank Williams played over the speakers and surreal black and white Betty Boop cartoons were projected onto a screen above a stage draped in red, it was immediately clear this was going to be a rather odd concert.

But nothing less should be expected from the ex-husband-and-wife-posing-as-brother-and-sister duo known as the White Stripes while they're busy blazing trails in American music. The show was indeed odd, but it was also energetic, loud, intense and exhilarating.

Jack White had fun alternately cavorting in his black-and-red jumpsuit like the rock star he is and sometimes spiraling out of control like a madman. Meg White had fun banging away on her trademark red drum set, singing along to every song and bobbing her head to the beat. In turn, the audience had fun watching Jack and Meg having so much fun, and they let the band know it with wild applause.

Touring in support of their latest release, "Elephant," the duo played just as many songs from each of their three previous releases.

Leading off with the metal-influenced "Black Math," the Stripes didn't even pause for applause until a few songs into the set. Jack White left his guitar dangling around his neck while he played the opening piano vamp for "Apple Blossom," a sweet, rollicking single from the group's sophomore effort, "De Stijl." He twisted the words around, affecting an unplaceable foreign accent as he howled lyrics like "Lots of girls walk around in tears/But that's not for you."

Meg White may not be the better singer of the two, but when she left the drum stool and took center stage to sing "Cold, Cold Night," the "Elephant" track Jack wrote for her, the Orpheum crowd went wild after every verse.

It might be hard to imagine an abridged version of "Fell In Love With a Girl," the Stripes' two-minute breakthrough single from 2001's "White Blood Cells," but they pulled it off in little over a minute.

The band played only a brief encore, led off with current single "Seven Nation Army." The ferocious solos he launched into between verses were more AC/DC than Leadbelly, and the audience loved it.

But as outstanding as the music was, equally entertaining was the chemistry between Jack and Meg. Every time Jack went over to the extra mic stand next to Meg's drums, the intensity kicked up a notch.

Like Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham before them, Jack and Meg White had no problem singing at each other as former lovers, letting the audience into their soap opera. But the camaraderie between the two seemed genuine, especially when Jack came over to share Meg's drum stool.

The closing song on "Elephant" is called "It's True that We Love One Another," and that phrase proved to be more than a song title Sunday night, it was the truth -- both for Jack and Meg White and for the White Stripes and the Boston crowd.