I always take a moment to remember the 8 November over the more traditional 5 November when it rolls around, particularly as I’ve never been one for fireworks and I positively loathe the idea of celebrating the barbaric execution of a (most likely) framed man. This year however, my celebrations are particularly poignant.
It was exactly 10 years ago today that I saw the White Stripes play live for the first time at the historic BBC radio tower, Alexandra Palace. Little did I know at the time that this fateful evening would change my life forever.
A quick White Stripes biography for the uninitiated amongst you:
The White Stripes were formed in 1997 by Jack White (born John Anthony Gillis) and Megan Martha White, a garage rock/blues duo hailing from Detroit, Michigan in the USA. Though they were in fact married at the time (never one for convention, Jack took Meg’s name), the two posed as brother and sister, using gimmicks such as a staunch red, white and black dress code, and Meg’s total lack of technical drumming skill (Jack taught her himself and controversially forbade her from taking any further lessons) in order to build up their childlike mystique, using lies to tell the truth. Though their marriage and subsequent divorce in the year 2000 did not remain a secret for very long, the two always retained a stage persona of brother and sister and continue to do so to this very day, even after their split. Whilst it was technically the duo’s third album White Blood Cells released in 2001 that helped them to break out of the Detroit garage rock scene and spread the blues internationally, it was arguably their fourth album, Elephant, led by the now prolific riffing anthem ‘Seven Nation Army’ released in 2003 which truly cemented their place in music history.
But it wasn’t until the year 2005 with the release of their fifth album, Get Behind Me Satan, did I finally jump on the bandwagon and spontaneously agree to attend one of their concerts at the invitation of my friend Carly.
It was to be one of 3 times that I would get to see the White Stripes over the course of my latter teenage years (which I consider to be very appropriate, because the White Stripes’ frontman Jack White was – and is – obsessed with the number 3). I also had tickets to go and see them play the Birmingham NIA and O2 Arena in Greenwich when drummer Meg White suffered from an acute anxiety attack in September 2007, causing them to cancel all their remaining tour dates. After four years of complete radio silence (barring the release of Under Great White Northern Lights – a documentary and recording of their ten-year anniversary concert – and a lacklustre performance of ‘We’re Going To Be Friends’ on Late Night with Conan O’Brien), they finally announced their long-expected split on 2 February, 2011 (my birthday, no less, the heartless bastards!).
Strange to look back on it all today and realise that my time as a hardcore White Stripes nut – and by God, I was a nut – was so brief, especially when I consider what a huge impact this particular concert had on my life and its direction. It’s hard to put into words precisely how much this concert and Get Behind Me Satan mean to me, but I did manage to do it once with the below video filmed in 2013. So I think it’s only appropriate to include that video as part of this post.
I should mention that since this video was posted more than two years ago, a couple of very positive things happened off the back of it. One of the people I mention in it as having not been very nice to me at school reached out and apologised after watching it, and I have since buried the hatchet with all the others. If that isn’t a sign that time heals all wounds and everything happens for a reason, I don’t know what is!
For fellow ‘Stripes fans reading this blog post, the setlist from that fateful evening was thus:
Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground
Party Of Special Things To Do (Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band cover)
I Think I Smell A Rat
Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)
I Fought Piranhas
Death Letter (Son House cover)
I’m Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman
You’re Pretty Good Looking (For A Girl)
Cold Cold Night
I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart
Let’s Shake Hands
Warning (The Ansley Dunbar Retaliation cover)
Ball And Biscuit
The Hardest Button To Button
The Denial Twist
We’re Going To Be Friends
Seven Nation Army
I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (Burt Bacharach cover)
Boll Weevil (Lead Belly cover)
At some point in the evening, a fan threw a red and white lollipop on stage and Jack paused a moment to pick it up and sing ‘The Munchkin Song’ from The Wizard of Oz to Meg, but I forget which song!
- Promotional album poster
- Promotional Christmas cracker
- Get Behind Me Satan: Under Amazonian Lights (Vault Package #23)
- Get Behind Me Satan: Original promotional vinyl
- Get Behind Me Satan: Record Store Day release with 3D lenticular cover
- The Denial Twist CD live from Alexandra Palace, 8 November 2005 (given away for free on the night)
- 3x 3D Lenticular postcards
- Get Behind Me Satan promotional sticker
- Paper ticket for The White Stripes at Alexandra Palace, 8 November 2005
I also remembered after I’d taken the photo that I have a copy of Walking With A Ghost which was an EP they released for Christmas, but totally blanked.
Lastly, to finish this admittedly rather disjointed, frenzied post off, I leave you with the greatest rock performance ever given (in my opinion): The White Stripes headlining the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage, 24 June 2005 with a searing cover of Son House’s ‘Death Letter’:
Thank you for letting me ramble. Take care,
The White Stripes official website, like the band themselves, is no more, but you can find more information about them and Jack White’s other projects at Third Man Records: