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Concert Review

The White Stripes have been given enough adoring praise from pop music critics around the world to make your head explode. Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times, who is in love with the band, writes, “This Detroit duo plays rock and roll as it was meant to be: urgent, witty, sensual, inspiring and defiant.” The British music magazine, Mojo, claims they’re the best live band on the planet. And everyone from NPR to the New Yorker to Entertainment Weekly are drooling over rock’s new sensation.

And guess what? I’m here to tell you that I saw Rock and Roll magic Saturday night. Even with all my highest expectations, my jaw hit the floor (and my head exploded) in awe, in love, in rock bliss.

The first moments of wonderment were realizing that all the rumors were true. Yep, Jack White, lead singer, guitarist and mastermind behind the operation does refer to his ex-wife (there’s ocuments to prove it ñ Entertainment Weekly has copies of ’em!) Meg White, as his “big sister.”

Yep, they do wear only red and white clothing (and to add to the highly stylized look of the band, even the roadies wear black suits and derby hats). Nope, it doesn’t appear as though they have a set list (they didn’t play their “single,” “Fell In Love with a Girl”). And confirmed, as the show climbed to frenzied peaks with blitzing guitar and vocal freak-outs proving they are here to help save Rock and Roll from near-death.

Jack White, clad in matching tight red T-shirt and pants, played part angry child (exchanging dueling guitar/drums with partner, Meg), part Vaudevillian charmer on “You’re Pretty Good Looking,” and part blues-style preacher man when ripping the echo-effect mic from the stand and leaning over the audience, looking at them with a chilling stare.

And, in a truly jaw-dropping moment, Jack took his acoustic guitar (that’s so ripped up it looks like a brown paper bag) and violated it in a beautiful way, covering Son House’s blistering “Death Letter.” He scratched, strangled, and stroked his instrument, using his slide, his fingernails and his muscle. He also dropped to his knees, bowing down before the amp behind him. I felt like Marty McFly’s mom in Back to the Future when all the kids at the school dance are at once both scared and mesmerized by Marty’s Jimi Hendrix-solo after his cover of “Johnny B. Goode.” Jack made me feel like a concert virgin, touched by a guitar solo for the very first time.

Looking like a cousin of Addams Family-era Christina Ricci, Meg White played like an imaginative, brilliant child, carefully banging away on her drum kit, and bouncing on her white vinyl stool, with “Meg” embroidered in red stitching. Barefoot and doll-like, she served as Jack’s anchor when he would slip way in a passionate trance like on “Love Sick.” As Jack yowled, “I’m sick of love! I wish I’d never met you! Meg kept her cool, only giving into little grimaces, as she would match Jack’s intensity. As my friend Jay commented, she was “just like Charlie Watts.” During songs such as the melodramatic and feisty “I Think I Smell a Rat” and the ode to grade school, “We’re Going to be Friends,” they would exchange glances and slight smiles, showing off their subtle and deep connection they share. Perhaps the most striking element was how profoundly they seemed to be in sync. If they’re not brother and sister, thank goodness they found each other, because I need them to keep the mythical and magical rock coming and so do you.

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