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Concert Review: The White Stripes, July 2, 2007, Winnipeg, MTS Centre

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This was the second show at the MTS Centre in which I had floor seats, but this time, all the seats were standing — rush seating. My goal was to leave home so that I could arrive in time to be among the first let inside so I could get to the front of the stage.

I arrived around 5:30 but was told that the doors were to open at 6:30. I headed to the tavern next door and had a quick supper. As I waited with a small crowd for the doors to open, one of them noted the warning that strobe lights would be used. He commented that strobe lights weren't good for him but that they didn't have any warning when he was buying his tickets.

I was the first and only person at the nearest merchandise booth but they said I had to go to the other one since that one had the 2 XXL shirts. As I walked over, I popped my head in to see how big the gathering crowd was at the front of the stage. It was still not even taking up all the space at the front. I waited for a few minutes at this other merchandise booth and made my way to the floor, putting on my new T-shirt-shirt. People were packed up near the middle but not on the sides so I just walked up the front.

At first I had people jumping around me and just having a good time. Then, the shoving began, but I stood my ground the diminutive woman standing beside me and I didn't get squished. Before the show began, the security guards warned that anyone caught audience surfing would be kicked out. Several times during the show, the security reached over into the audience to try to grab people or to tell them to stop. One guy who was pulled out the audience was just let go and he gleefully ran back into the standing floor crowd.

I can't say what most of the songs were since I only recognized one for sure and I didn't know the names of the others that were familiar. I really like the new album but I haven't heard it enough to know the song titles. Dolly Parton's "Jolene" was powerfully and passionately sung by Jack White. One of the best songs performed was the single from their 2001 album, White Blood Cells, "Hotel Yorba." Jack introduced the song saying how much they enjoyed Winnipeg public transportation but they were kicked out of this particular hotel.

From the same album, many fans were singing along to "We're Going to Be Friends," which has also been used in the Napoleon Dynamite film and a cover version was recorded by Jack Johnson for the Curious George soundtrack. I don't think they played another favorite, "Fell In Love With A Girl." Towards the end of the show they played another favorite, "Seven Nation Army," which Jack started by stomping on stage monitor to get the audience clapping along.

Jack is a true icon. He's got the stage presence, the looks, the moves, the vocals and the guitar playing to keep audiences captivated. With his shock of bed-head hair, he also resembled a bit of Edward Scissorhands. He's also a Hollywood celebrity, which can only help the Stripes following among people who care about these things. I thought he also looked a bit like that guy who was in The Crow, a Goth movie from way back.

When I saw the five microphones on the stage, I wondered if they would have back up singers but, of course, they didn't. It was interesting to hear the audience cheer when Jack played even the smallest blues lick on the guitar. Maybe the blues is something exotic to most of them. The opening band, Dan Sartain from Birmingham, Alabama, was unknown but they were appealing. The lead singer looked a bit geeky. I liked their energetic, twangy, sound and would like them more, I'm sure, if was familiar with their music. The drummer and second guitarist looked as if they were barely out of their teens. The bass player looked very average joe-ish, but I could hear his bass really well.

Having recently seen the awesome multi-media spectacle that is the current Roger Waters tour last week, I can honestly say that I have become spoiled for video screens. Usually, you see one video screen on either side of the stage, to give everyone a great look at the stage show, regardless of how far away anyone is. I was surprised to see that there were no video screens for this show. The backdrop was just a red curtain, without any names or logos. Almost everything on the stage was painted red, from amplifiers to keyboards, and including the stairs and raised platform that Jack White ran on so infrequently, you've got to wonder why they bothered to erect it in the first place.

At the end of the show, Jack was given a flag of Manitoba which he and Meg took turns waving at the front of the stage, as the audience reacted wildly, but also with the realization that with this special of a close, that there wasn't going to be an encore.
Given all the people I knew who were going, I was surprised to see fewer people than I expected, less than 10,000, I'd say.

I brought my earplugs, but it wasn't loud enough to require them. The Derek Trucks was way louder, as I was at the front, and I should have put them in for that show.

How long can they continue with the 2-person thrashy garage rock band before people tire of them? You'd think their angle – the two-person "brother-sister" act (Jack referred to Meg as his older sister at least twice, when they were formerly married and he took her last name) has limited musical potential before they have to repeat themselves. Meg sang one song in her girlie voice and Jack played a couple of keyboards.

Clearly, they appeal more to the twenty-something and under crowd, based on the audience I could see (which was mostly people on the floor.) Usually, the younger fans are, the more fickle they are and the more likely to abandon groups they love so much at the moment. I mean, if Ricky Martin came to town, I doubt he'd attract the same fans who saw him about 8 years ago when he was one of the hottest acts in the world. If the audience was more diverse than what I saw, then maybe the Stripes will be around for a while, especially if they continue to make good albums like the current one.

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About Triniman

Almost weekly, Triniman catches new movies, and adds one or two CDs to his collection. Due to time constraints, he blogs about only 5% of the CDs, books and DVDs that he purchases. Holed up in the geographic centre of North America, the cultural mecca of Canada, and the sunniest city north of the 49th, Winnipeg, Triniman blogs a bit when he's not swatting mosquitoes, shoveling snow or golfing.
  • JC Mosquito

    In Saskatoon I was amazed at the diversity of the audience – for sure, a lot of 20 somethings, but there were families with teenage or preteen children, and there were definitely more than a few greybeards. I saw one woman who must’ve been close to 60 decked out in her jeans, jean jacket, and red Hendrix T shirt, and she didn’t look dorky at all – she looked like she belonged there like everyone else.

    And we got the Sask flag – the only thing onstage that wasn’t red, white or black. Did you get a bowling alley appearance too?

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    I’m beginning to think the audience was diverse, I just could see mostly younger people from my vantage spot.

    No bowling alley appearance, but they played some songs on a local transit bus and then on one of the bridges downtown.

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    Here the secret Winnipeg transit bus gig documented.

    Go to Youtube for White Stripes – Winnipeg Secet Show “Hotel Yorba” and for White Stripes, Secret Show in Transit Bus , Winnipeg to see footage of the bus gig. Wish I was there.

  • JC Mosquito

    Transit bus? And Winnipeg, too – you woulda thought they would’ve done a cover of the Guess Who’s Bus Rider.

  • http://www.bacchusrock.com Dave Butler

    The White Stripes rocked at a kids day camp at the YMCA in Toronto. More (and well deserved) good press for the duo.

  • j

    The White Stripes have been around for ten years already, now.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    I completely fail to understand how the blatantly recycled riffs and trite lyrics of the White Stripes manage to impress rock fans.

  • JC Mosquito

    CR – “I completely fail to understand how the blatantly recycled riffs and trite lyrics of the White Stripes manage to impress rock fans.”

    1) Because in this day and age, most riffs are recycled and most lyrics are trite.

    2) Because the context is different musically. Withoutu a bass or rhythm guitar behind it, a guitar solo is quite naked in the hands of many guitarists – and Jack White knows this includes himself.

    3) Because the two of them play with the glee of two kids in the rec room making a joyful noise having just discovered that E turns to D and back again quite easily.

    4) Because even a true rock fan gets tired of hearing virtuoso performances and needs to hear some truly ugly notes sometimes.

    That’s enough for me, anyways. Others may not be so easily impressed.

  • SFC SKI

    I chalk it up to the dearth of rock ‘n’ roll being publicized, or played on radio. face it, a great guitar riff out of a loud amp in a live setting is a great thing, and it might be old hat to us, but I’ll bet that it was new to a lot of the audience. Considering most emo bands don’t even play guitar solos anymore, you gotta get the rock any way you can.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Skeeter, whilst I agree that there are a lot of highly generic bands around that lack any distinctive qualities, there is still a lot of great music out there of all types, ugly or beautiful. For me, TWS are in the former camp…

  • SFC SKI

    Sure, choice of music is subjective (only because few people recognize that my opinions on music are objectively correct ;) )
    In any case, if TWS puts out some decent riffs, it’s going to attract a following, because live rock music has that kind of allure for many.
    It’s not like I play loud music all day, but a great electric guitar riff alone can get my head to banging. In some ways, Jack White is like a riff-o-matic machine, but the stripped down style goes all the way back to the beginnings of rock, and it’s a primeval call for many.

  • http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/BeSeenBeHeard/story?id=3141882 Candice ABC Digital

    Hi,

    I came across your posting as I was searching for White Stripes fans. This might be something you’d be interested in:

    We’re contacting you about an exciting opportunity to talk back to the garage/blues duo Jack and Meg White from the White Stripes.

    Get in your video questions for the singers/songwriters by Monday July 23rd and they might answer them on ABC News Now.

    We are also asking you to consider posting this message on your blog or website to spread the word and inform your readers of this opportunity.

    It’s easy! Here’s HOW:

    HOW TO SUBMIT VIDEOS:
    1) Via cell phone
    Record a 15-45 second clip and email it to: seenandheard [at] abcnews[dot go [dot]com

    2) Via the web:
    http://abcnews [dot]go [dot] com/US/BeSeenBeHeard/story?id=3279347

    Should you have any questions about this project, contact ABC News producer, Dena at 212-456-3373 or email us back at this address.
    Thanks & look forward to hearing from you!

    – The ABC News “Talk Back” Team

  • JC Mosquito

    Seems like this discussion has (finally) run its course, but for those of you keeping track, apparently TWS played a poolhall in Halifax, NS on their Canadian tour, to go along with the daycare, bowling alley, and city bus on someof their other stops.