Turning Into You (Godfather Records G.R. 214)
Mid 2007 the White Stripes were promoting their new LP “Icky Thump” – noted as a mixture of their previous albums ” Get Behind Me Satan” & “The White Stripes”. The album had a very British / Scottish connection as the title came from a misheard colloquialism that Jack’s Manchester born wife was apt to saying ( ‘Ecky Thump’ – a mild mannered curse ) & a duo of songs called “Prickly Thorn ( but Sweetly Worn)” & “St. Andrew ( This Battle is in the Air )” so a return to Britain would have been quite the home coming for Jack & his heritage. This is the 2nd show in a 3 show stop over for this part of promoting the album and while no two White Stripes shows are ever the same ( although Jack knows his openers & closers & usually sticks to those dependent on his moods ) then each & everyone is used to work the audience – if Jack dosen’t think the audience are worked up enough after the first 3 or 4 songs then he’ll go out of his way to break them a sweat.
the set starts as is usually does with ‘Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground’ – the song springs out from a haze of feedback & messed up chords – it’s quite a powerful kick that the audience responds too – Jack lets them have their fun by singing the second line & then continues to set the pace of the song by singing the song himself. The song is given an extended middle until it’s thrust back to the crowd. Around 8 seconds separate this song from the next “When I Hear My Name”. it’s here when Jack can be heard dropping in some of the famous guitar histrionics that he’s been making his name with. it’s obvious he’s having fun now as the Robert Plant aping screams & guitar licks have moved on a few notches & feels free enough to show off a bit.
He’s having so much fun in fact that the title track from Icky Thump speeds along, jumping cues & benefiting from improvising sonic squeals from the keyboard. By the second half then the audience are eating out of the bands palm – clapping, screaming & singing every word of Jacks hyper fast renditions of his songs. A brief 10 second introduction for the band & it’s straight in to the second album track “I’m Slowly Turning In To You” since this track was issued it’s taken in a call & response piece from the band to the audience – carefully extracting a “woop” when Meg gets to the end of a set of beats contained in the verse. As the song concludes Jack peals off the first few chords from “I Think I Smell A Rat” & lets them hang in the air to excite the audience after the third pass he tears in to the song once again. after a small change in sound ( it’s obvious by this stage the Godfather has taken this audio from a television broadcast & has clipped out the adverts to give the presence of a full show ) the band are straight in to the third ‘Icky Thump’ track – “A Martyr For My Love For You” – it’s not too far removed from it’s album version but is best left that way are there really are no diversions that Jack could make as he’s possibly already calculated that the following medley is next “Death Letter > Motherless Children” is derived from a track from the White Stripes second album “De Stijl” & the blues standard by Blind Willie Johnson & the Rev. Gary Davis – also covered by Steve Miller & Eric Clapton it’s probably the earlier version that Jack is referencing.
as the poster of the White Stripes DVD review “Story To Tell” from Apocalypse Sound has mentioned then Jack will splice in an old blues song when & where he feels like & seeing at the chords that he’s chosen to represent Motherless Children with don’t vary much from Death Letter that much then it seems a natural path to take. It’s the drummers turn next! Meg steps from behind the drum kit to deliver her vocal from the White Stripes 4th Album Elephant – the White Stripes sex symbol in residence’s singing skills are as base as her drumming but then it’s that singing that eaks out the flesh of what’s being attempted on stage – these are no rehearsal by numbers songs just songs as they’re heard, as they’re played & how they’re felt. the crowd go wild as Meg steps towards the microphone to deliver this song. it’s brought out my Jack keeping time by trashing out the chords on his guitar. it doesn’t get much more primal than this.
“Jolene” follows – another song that the White Stripes have taken as a mast head & turned around from an upbeat country song to a deathless pean to his auburn haired enemy in love. Another much used medley follows “Cannon > John The Revelator > Astro > Ball & Biscuit” a high paced tour de force through old White Stripes songs & an older blues song – all blustered through with a solid intensity. Jack drops in a reference to auburn women in to “Ball & Biscuit” shouting “Ask your red headed girlfriend to see if they know .. ” before scratching out a brutal solo on the guitar. this song has always been a pinnacle for improvisation & we’re not left wanting. “Blue Orchid” is pulled from the White Stripes 5th album ( the only one that appears tonight ). it’s an almost dance influenced record ( indeed it has been remixed a few times for dance floors in Indie circles ) but almost certainly got the audience working tonight with it’s extended solo middle eight. Yet another medley appears next “The Denial Twist > Wasting My Time” – it’s started slowly but then escalates in to the proto – metal monster that is was already. Jack then decides to change pace altogether & drop Wasting My Time in to the mix an altogether different beast.
The Bacharach & David classic follows – requested by Meg to be on the album Elephant – it’s clear that it’s an audience favorite too as the audience is again invited to sing the second line in the verse once again. Megs drums are a little too cymbal heavy here but it doesn’t distract too much fro the performance
taking the pace right down is “We Are Going To Be Friends” from ‘White Blood Cells’ – usually now used by Jack to make a small connection to the audience ( he’s used props in the past such as a mirror but now invites the band to sing along spiritedly through a few lines & the audience respond by clapping the whole way through something that Jack remarks on. )
to end the show & in it’s rightful place is “Seven Nation Army” from Elephant. possibly the White Stripes best known single due to numerous radio & television shows. Jack lets the song drop twice through, picks up the pace again & once more drags out it’s famous solo in the middle. the song is almost a philosophy for the White Stripes as it mentions the sweat dripping from every pore & the fight against everything that Jack conceives evil.
To follow the live set then The Godfather has seen fit to include 2 songs from BBC Radio 1’s “White Stripes Wednesday” from Jo Whiley’s dinnertime radio show from June 13th 2007. possibly downloaded from the ‘net then the songs sound a little less bassy than the other broadcast but still fine for what they are.
The artwork is the usual inventive Godfather tri-fold card sleeve – rather than a few other White Stripes bootlegs that were very sloppily prepared then the Godfather has taken great care in using the Red, White & Back colourway that the White Stripes insist on. Presenting a vintage looking press photo on the front, graphics from the bands website & a handsome portrait of jack on the back. Inside there are shots from the stage at the O2, a colourised but B&W picture of med & the sleeve for the utilizes an old color press photo of the band.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)