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flag US - Michigan - Full Moon 64 - 12/30/01

The White Stripes
Cologne, Germany 24.11.2001

According to the legend, Elektra Records A&R Danny Fields flew to Detroit, Michigan, in 1968 to sign the amazing MC5 for the label. The very same weekend he saw the MC5's "little brother band" The Stooges (recommended by MC5-guitarist Wayne Kramer) and thus signed two legendary bands within a few hours. More than 30 years later Detroit is back on the rock'n'roll map, thanks mostly to The White Stripes.

In the summer of 2001 England had been shaken by Stripesmania already, but before Meg and Jack White conquered Germany with a triumphant first show in Cologne, they had brought along their mates The Von Bondies, who turned out to be much more than just a regular support band. Less bluesy than the Stripes, but with a lot more unstoppable Garage power, the quartet - two guys, two girls - hammered out some of the coolest (and loudest) Animals/Jimi/Iggy-influenced power rock songs you're likely to hear anywhere these days. They made quite clear that song titles like "Sound Of Terror" doesn't have to be tongue-in-cheek all of the time... In Cologne at least The Von Bondies even made the great Soundtrack Of Our Lives sound like Barbara Streisand!

The undisputed headliners were the White Stripes of course. And despite the fact that they only graced the stage for 55 minutes, it basically didn't take them more than a couple of bars of the opening song to win over the entire crowd at the almost sold out Gebäude 9. And for their rough and dirty sound they definitely didn't need more than one guitar, drums and the occasional electric piano. It was a celebration of the "new century blues" - influenced by 25 years of punk and 15 years of indie-rock. Despite the fact that they siblings never make setlists it didn't take more than a nod from Jack or a wink from Meg to move on the to next song, regardless if it was culled from their most recent album White Blood Cells (which Luna Kafe reviewed last month), like the unbelievably raw Led Zeppelin tribute "Expected" or the uptempo "I'm In Love With A Girl" or even older stuff like the always excellent "You're Pretty Good Looking". 'Well rehearsed' would be an understatement for the two Whites, although that doesn't mean were talking perfectionism here. But especially when things didn't sound perfect they just added that special edge to the songs that makes the White Stripes so unique.

They also delivered a great selction of cover versions, ranging from Polly Parton's "Jolene" to Marlene Dietrich's (!) "Look Me Over Closely". Best of all though was a rarely performed rendition of Bob Dylan's recent classic "Love Sick", that seemed to combine all the elements that make the Detroit two-piece so special: Blues and (Indie-) Rock, hope and desolation, heartfelt emotions and raw power. A great, great show that once again proved that you can't beat the sound of a hard rocking live band.

Copyright © 2001 Carsten Wohlfeld (photos also) e-mail address

You may also want to check out our White Stripes articles/reviews: White Blood Cells, a short conversation with....

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