The White Stripes

Glastonbury Festival 2005 - reviews

published: Fri 8th Jul 2005

Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June 2005
Worthy Farm, Pilton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 4AZ, England MAP
£125 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 150000
last updated: Wed 7th Aug 2013

The White Stripes – Pyramid Stage, Friday

‘Just two people on the main Pyramid stage, won’t they be lost on the scale of the stage I mean it’s had whole opera companies fill it?’ That’s what I was thinking before Meg and Jack White took to the stage. How wrong could I have been. Their huge performance never made them appear diminutive and they seemed to fill the whole of the space they had available.

Jack White is dressed in a red and black Mariachi costume with a Johnny Depp/buccaneer style goatee (maybe he’s heard crime figures at Glastonbury are down but with all the water Piracy is on the increase) and resplendent hat and looks statuesque and much more mature than the last time they had a UK performance.

The stage looks resplendent covered in a large red sun/white moon and white palm trees and it's very effective with the white and red lighting. Congratulations for whoever designed it as the spiky bottom portion offsets the jostling flags in the crowd and it works tremendously well on the big screens.

Most of the set draws heavily from the new album, ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ but all the crowd sing alongs are in there too including ‘I just don't know what to do with myself’, Little Ghost’ and the mammoth karaoke session of their blistering cover of ‘Jolene.’ Plus my personal favourite ‘We're Going To Be Friends.’

Meg remains hunched over her massive drum kit and frenziedly thrashes out beats and thuds dressed in a simple red shift while Jack wanders around the stage to the plethora of instruments scattered across it, first a giant xylophone, then sitting at a piano for ‘My Doorbell,’ then on to a giant marimba for a truly mesmerising version of ‘The Nurse.’ All the while returning to his guitar for twisted riffs plundered from Hendrix and Page and it’s glorious red fire and he plays as though he has indeed given himself up to some supernatural elemental force. As he says in ‘Ball and Biscuit’ possibly he really is the seventh son.

Meg too gets her chance to take centre stage with a giant set of kettle drums. At one point she plays a maraca beat before crashing the maraca into the symbols and drums for a fantastic sound. She’s reminiscent of the lightning and thunder crashing around our heads earlier that morning. She still looks like a novice at first glance but there is some hugely competent drumming hidden within the frenzy.

‘Blue Orchid’ has the crowd yelling along, although for the most part the set is more a case of listening to the pair and Jack talks to us to apologise for being American I think through a heavily mangled and distorted microphone which makes it hard to understand a word he says.

Overall the set is strange and awkward and Gothic. But the brilliance of both it's protagonists shine. We are watching genius in full flow. Their encore includes the huge crowd pleaser ‘Seven Nation Army’ and we all walk off into the night exuberant at having seen masterful musicianship in full stuttering flow. Though I do wish they'd find someone else to do Meg's singing - ah well it adds to the theatrical feel of the performance I guess. Worthy headliners on the opening night and quite possibly the best live performance of the weekend.

review by: Scott Williams

Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June 2005
Worthy Farm, Pilton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 4AZ, England MAP
£125 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 150000
last updated: Wed 7th Aug 2013


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