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TV Review: The White Stripes Live on The Daily Show

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It’s been a busy couple of months for the White Stripes. They toured all over the world, playing venues no rock band had ever before entered. Drummer Meg White signed on to play on a soundtrack. Vocalist Jack (as in Jack-of-all-instruments) wrote a jingle for Coke, got married and oh yeah — is expecting a child. And tonight, they were the first musical act to play live on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

The minimalist modern rock duo had a quick chat with host Jon Stewart before heading over to the makeshift stage to play “The Denial Twist” and “My Doorbell,” both singles from their (no-it-grows-on-you-oh-my-god-really-buy-it-now) latest album Get Behind Me Satan. They seemed a bit stiff and giggly, but I’m sure it’s strange to know you’re going to have to shift from interview-mode to performance-mode so quickly. I don’t know what Jack and Meg do to prepare to perform before crowds (I’d bet they don’t sit down and chat up the press, even the fake press), but me, I’d be eight shades of green and probably vomiting up three days’ worth of meals, which you really can’t do politely on camera. And I’d really hate to embarrass myself in front of Jon Stewart like that.

Speculation favored the band choosing “The Denial Twist” for tonight’s show; after all, it’s the latest single, with a fresh video directed by Michel Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which you can check out here. Gondry also directed several other videos for the band.

Besides, considering the White Stripes recently released ten (ten!) different versions of the song, even letting everyone guess (accurately) that they were going to play it left plenty of wiggle room — and indeed, tonight’s version was not the album cut. That playful versatility is one of the things I really like about the band. You never know what version (or style) of a song you’re going to hear when they perform live, but the alterations are always good and they really show off just how much a duo can pull off if they’re talented. The album cut of “The Denial Twist” relies on the piano, but on The Daily Show the song was all about Jack and his guitar. “Doorbell” they played pretty straight, however, after Jack shook off whatever it is that drags down the beginning of his performances.

Jack and Meg WhiteYeah, I said it. I said something not-positive about the band. But it’s true; at the beginning of every live performance I’ve seen/heard, Jack’s a little rough. It takes him a few breaths to settle into a song. And with this format (play a song, wait, Jon chatters, play another), there were two rough patches, one at the beginning of each song. Though I must say, he settled into “Doorbell” more easily than he did the first song. Meg, of course, was golden. She doesn’t get enough credit.

Overall? The performance was good but not great, and while I love seeing my favorite band on my favorite show, the show seemed a little truncated (which is not good) and Jacky-Live may be an acquired taste and I worry that some potential fans might have actually been turned off by what they saw. Don’t get me wrong. I, of course, think that makes them snap-judging fools, but hey. I’m a fan. I would still hope any discerning music lover could see past a few rough edges on Jack’s vocals into the depth beneath.

It was nice to see these two elements paired, but frankly, I hope they shy away from music in the future. I require more Jon Stewart, and can we please get some really funny people to replace Stephen Colbert? You guys should really pry Mo Rocca away from The Tonight Show. He’s better than that, and The Daily Show could use him.

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About Alisha Karabinus

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    You lost me at Rocca. You said you wanted “really funny people”. That disqualifies him.

  • http://www.suddennothing.net Alisha Karabinus

    Aww, c’mon now! He was better than that terribly bland guy they had on last night. It was a funny piece — that detective, I dunno where they found him, but he was great — but the “correspondent” was boring as hell.

  • Hugh

    To be honest I think that the version of the denial twist on the daily show was much better than the one found of the new CD. I like that raw feeling that came from the performance. Just my opinion though.

  • Adam

    hey actully i had heard of the white stripes before but never actully listend to them but u said i hope they shy away from music and the didnt do very good and it turned people away i actully stated listinin to them when i saw them on john stewart

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    I had the experience of seeing TWS on Conan O’Brien recently. After the music ended there was a little interview. Conan and Jack had a such riveting chat I was unable to tear myself away from the TV set.

    After first discussing at length the fascinating fact that Jack’s wispy beard was longer than it used to be they moved on to the revelation that the TWS entourage are all required to wear hats! Meanwhile, Meg sat curled up in a chair and said absolutely nothing.

    It may take me quite some time to get over what was indisputably the most stunning audio-visual television performance of 2005. I think I’ll just round off this “hats off to The White Stripes” by quoting an extract of their lyrical tour-de-force “Forever For Her” from their recent masterpiece “Get Behind Me Satan” album.

    I blew it
    And if I knew what to do, then I’d do it
    But the point that I have, I’ll get to it
    And forever for her is over for me
    Forever, just the word that she said that means never
    To be with another together
    And with the weight of a feather it tore into me
    Then I knew it
    All the work that it took to get through it
    On the wings of a feather that flew it
    Fell onto my shoe it cut up into me

    Heady stuff eh, pop kids?