WHITE STRIPES with the GREENHORNES at Molson Amphitheatre, September 16. Tickets: $25 to $42.40. Attendance: 12,500. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The White Stripes are unlikely rock stars. A Detroit garage rock duo shouldn't really be playing venues like the Molson Amphitheatre , and neither should they be the subject of celebrity gossip rags or big-room dance remixes, but these are strange days. Opening act the Greenhornes are sounding more and more like a late-60s British rock band (albeit without the guitar heroics or rock hero posturing), so they seemed less out of place in the cavernous venue.
Unfortunately, the Amphitheatre's massive reverb drowned out much of their riffing because they were severely under-amplified. By the end of their set they'd surely made a few converts in the crowd, but their songs aren't catchy enough to make a lasting impression.
Immediately after their set, the roadies all dressed in the trademark red, black and white rushed to prepare for the headliners, whose approach to these big-venue shows is a curious combination of small-club minimalism and stadium-sized set design.
The consistency of their visual aesthetic is remarkable. Everything in view was one of the three colours, including the grand piano, the vibraphone and the tympani. Whether they really needed the extra orchestration is up for debate, but it looked great next to the wall of vintage guitar amps.
For just two people, Meg and Jack White sure make a lot of noise. You wouldn't really describe them as a tight band, but they are a highly effective rock weapon these days. Since it's just the two of them, they have the freedom to speed up and slow down, and can take a detour from the script more easily than the typical stadium band.
There was no stage patter until the end of the encore, and since they weren't using video screens, the back sections would only have seen a couple of stick figures. Meg and Jack were depending on the actual songs to entertain the crowd.
Funny enough, that's all it took.