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The White Stripes - Caught live at Alexandra Palace


Review: Guest critic, Roland Stanbridge-Miles

SO, the Von Bondies aren't supporting? Strangely not.

Instead, we get Blanche. Not the one from the 'Golden Girls', or even 'A Streetcar Named Desire', although they are American.

A bit difficult for me to comment on them, as I saw nothing (only a big curtain) and heard not much more.

But I don't really want to hear anymore. I think they sounded like a poor man's White Stripes, though that's probably being a bit unfair.

And I am a poor man - all my money goes on gigs!

I hear The White Stripes loud and clear - in fact, it must be one of the loudest gigs I've been to recently, but saw little more, due to a combination of factors - standing near the back (in a large, but nice, venue); a lack of a Brixton Academy-style slope (I guess the viewing lines for an American rock band weren't in the thoughts of the architects, back whenever Ally Pally - as I believe locals call it - was built); and a frustratingly large number of unnaturally / improbably tall people that exist only at gigs and enjoy competing with each other to see who can spend the most time stood directly in front of me.

There are some accomplished competitors tonight.

Attempting to see the band is made more difficult still by the small size of the band - only two people, one of whom is sitting down (it's far easier to see the Super Furry Animals, especially when they've got their monster costumes on!).

It sounds more like 20 people, though, and it's almost impossible to believe they can make such a racket.

Very loud electric guitar and a lot of bass drum. Now don't get me wrong, I like the White Stripes (otherwise, I wouldn't be here), though I haven't heard Elephant yet.

But a 90-minute set seems to highlight their limitations.

Repetitive drum beats (although Meg does look cool doing it) and Jack thrashing his guitar and wailing (what does that do to his voice?) begins to sound quite samey after a while, and my attention starts to wander.

I'm sure it would be a completely different experience if I was down the front, especially with a few more beers inside me, but, sadly, I'm not.

I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends is a nice change of pace, as is I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, played as part of a long encore.

Other songs, presumably intended to be 'beefed up' from the recorded versions, instead sound a bit rushed, such as Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.

It's the pauses that make that song. Surprisingly, they don't play Fell In Love With A Girl. Or maybe they just play it so quickly I don't even notice.

The last song of the night, I'm Looking For A Hole, is probably the best.

I didn't hear anyone suggesting Jack White play Jailhouse Rock. They probably don't fancy a knuckle sandwich!

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