My Review of the White Stripes at MSG. It’s a Doozy

What the heck was THIS about?

The down and dirty details about Jack and Meg’s Madison Square Garden performance after the jump.

white stripes at madison square garden

Hey guys–All day I’ve been hemming and hawing over what to write about last night’s New York City White Stripes show. As you all know, I’m a HUGE WS fan–I have been ever since 2001 when (in very fangirl fashion) I stalked out Jack and Meg outside the Ed Sullivan Theater when they were supposed to play on Letterman. (They didn’t actually get to perform–they got bumped because of Cokie Roberts.) I will never ever forget–the first time I ever saw Jack White in the flesh was when he walked out of the stage door in a black t-shirt and jeans, carrying a zebra head. Yes, an actual zebra head.

That bizzare first impression basically set the tone for what would become one of my most dysfunctional musical obsessions to date. Over the years the White Stripes have thrilled me with their constant evolution and experimentation, but perhaps it is because the high points are so high that the mediocre or low points seem so low.

I actually went in with no sort of expectation for the show at MSG. I’d never actually BEEN to MSG before for a concert, so I really had no idea what type of crowd would be there, what the “vibe” would be or any of that. I almost never go to huge arena shows so I totally forget how distant-feeling and removed you can feel during these types of concerts.

I got there relatively early, leisurely went through the bag check, and then to my immediate right, I saw the merchandise table. I headed over to see what kind of special wares were for sale this time around. I didn’t see any special posters (ED NOTE: Apparently I didn’t look hard enough, or looked at the wrong merch booth–there WERE posters!! WTF?!?) or any of those $5 t-shirts that were available at the Irving Plaza show last month. Nope. All I saw was $25 dollar shirts that were nothing to write home about (although the rib cage made out of buttons was cute), the $50 USB port with the album, and some ridiculous kilts for sale. Oookkkaaayyy…

We headed to our seats, and even though we got there well before the Stripes’ 10:15pm set time, I didn’t get there early enough to catch opener Porter Wagoner. I did however get there just in time to see Nick Cave’s side project/mid life crisis called Grinderman. Let it be known that I really know nothing of Nick Cave and his musical endeavors–I realize that he has an extensive musical cannon behind him and that many people think he is a brilliant musician, but I have to base my opinions on what I saw, not what other people tell me.

Now brace yourselves–I’m going to be frank. Grinderman sounded like the musical equivalent of the Elaine Dance. You’re trying really hard not to be mean, but you just can’t help but notice that something is terribly, terribly wrong with the situation. The wailing guitars and primal drum beats that make up Grinderman’s signature “garage rock” sound just didn’t translate well over an echoing half-empty arena.

And even though once upon a time in Nick Cave’s career, he was probably seen as “edgy” and “cool” as he shrieked and howled into his microphone when he fronted his post-punk band called The Birthday Party, the truth is that no one wants to see a 49 year old man in a suit doing that–unless your name happens to be Iggy Pop–it’s embarrassing to all parties involved. And what’s even worse than a 49 year old man whooping and wailing is a 49 year old man growling about “panther piss” (“Get It On”). I’m sorry, I just CANNOT get behind that.

Anyhoo, needless to say, by the time the White Stripes came onstage I was good and ready to rock out. The stage looked positively stunning when the stage hands took down the curtain that had been covering the main backdrop to reveal a giant red scrim and red platform with three sets of stairs standing behind the drum kit and guitar/amp setup. Pristine and void of all that weird palm tree madness that plagued the Get Behind Me Satan tour, it was a lovely site to see. In addition to that, I was thrilled to once again see the classic all-red outfit that Jack was sporting, while Meg was in a tasteful red top and black pant number. The starting song, “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground” was promising enough, as was the next–“When I Hear My Name”. Both are of the older WS catalog, but pretty standard staples in the Stripes’ setlists. But as soon as I heard the intro to “Jolene” I kinda rolled my eyes. Yes, it’s a great song. Yes, the White Stripes do a great cover of it, but DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I’VE HEARD THEM DO “JOLENE” OVER THE LAST 5 YEARS? Too many to count.

The choices for the next few songs felt uninspired to me–songs the White Stripes could play in their sleep–“Hotel Yorba”, “Cannon”, “John the Revelator” and then a surefire mob mentality crowd pleaser, “Icky Thump”. However, the next song was an unexpected surprise–a tune off their first album, the slow and steady “Do”. However, the spark didn’t last for long–a song that Jack has played and infinitum, “Death Letter” was up next, followed by Meg singing “Cold, Cold Night”.

Although “Cold, Cold Night” wouldn’t really be my choice of song for Meg to sing since that’s the only song Jack seems to let her croon (remember when they used to do “Rated X”? That used to be awesome!), there was one brief moment during that song that gave me chills–as Meg stood on one side of the stage, playing the electric organ during the instrumental interlude between her verses, Jack was on the opposite side of the stage hunched over–leaning on his knees, back to audience–almost hiding behind Meg’s drum kit. There was an innocence to that moment that truly seemed magical. I could envision Jack and Meg sitting in an attic somewhere when they first started the band, clumsily pounding and strumming away at their instruments with total concentration, and a bit of disregard for one another, but somehow in perfect harmony.

The next couple songs were off of Icky Thump, “A Martyr for My Love” and “I’m Slowly Turning Into You”. It was during the latter song where I had a “wtf” moment. The disco ball started up for “ISTIY”, which was fine–but then Jack started lifting his hand up into the air after ever guitar riff he did. The crowd responded by “WOOH-ing”. Jack continued to lift up his hand, and the crowd continued to “wooh”. This continued on for about 30 seconds – 1 minute. Guitar riff/ Wooh/ Guitar riff/ Wooh/ Guitar riff/ Wooh. (See the video at the beginning of this post.) It was like a freaking frat chant or something. It was a bit confusing/alarming. I will never quite understand the reasoning for that.

Also somewhere during the second half of the show someone decided that throwing their glowing mix drink stirrer into the crowd would be awesome. Other people caught on to this trend, so by the time the encore break rolled around, it was a full-on glowing swizzle stick assault on the lower levels of the arena. As annoying as it kinda was, it was kinda cool to se all the little glowy sticks as they made their decent through the dark sky…that was until the stick poked someone’s eye out or hit someone on the head. Oh well oh well oh well.

The rest of the show was pretty unremarkable. I was glad to hear them do “You Don’t Know What Love Is” since it is one of my favorite songs off the new album, but other than that the setlist was pretty predictable and pedestrian. There wasn’t any songs where I gasped and said, “I can’t believe they are playing this!” or I found myself trying to figure out who/what they were covering. The stage banter was also pretty unmemorable–with just a handful of corny jokes like, “I don’t believe we’ve played this bar before.” Oh and there was that one comment that Jack made during their bows, thanking the audience for buying their albums. Was he pandering to the crowd?? Don’t bother thanking us for liking your music, or being such a good audience…just thank us for spending dough that will put your kids through college.

I was impressed by the fact that those two little people could produce a sound that could fill up such a large venue and translate with the same amount of intensity as it would if it had been a 200-person club. However, the unfortunate aspect of the show was that the level of intensity from the band was not all it could have been. I’ve seen them deliver far more engaging and entertaining performances to 5,000+ person venues before where I did not find myself bored.

To me the lack of “special” merchandise [ED NOTE: I’m a tool and I MISSED the posters and buttons set… I’m going to go cry now] and the lack of a more challenging/varied setlist really signaled that unlike the Canadan leg of their tour, this is purely about bringing home the bacon. The Stripes gave us exactly what they thought the audience wanted–the hits, some new songs, and some familiar favorites. Not exactly a failure, but far from an inspirational night of music. It’s kinda like how Ewan McGregor does Star Wars so he can afford to do his passion projects that pay no money. The Stripes can afford to to through the wilds of Canada performing at bowling alleys and on trolley cars BECAUSE they make tons of cash selling us big city suckers $60 tickets and $25 tshirts.

More reviews: Product Shop NYC, Brooklyn Vegan, Phawker, Shullovox, KEXP Blog, NY Magazine, Rock Star Diary, NY Sun, NY Times

57 Replies to “My Review of the White Stripes at MSG. It’s a Doozy”

  1. jack is a showman. we’ve all known this for years. the walk across the platform was fantastic. its very lowkey but very theatrical as well. not too over the top, in typical fashion….

    i love how he doesn’t have super huge monitors playing psychedelic imagery like some bands. All the action is on the stage. He adds these small little touches that make it more entertaining.

    I noticed at times, he faced away from the audience, and let rita hayworth peek at the audience by merely moving his guitar to his side. (an image of rita is on the back of one of his new guitars)

    stuff like that is amazing to me.

    people who showed up late and only caught grinderman were disappointed. which is a sentiment i agree with, however porter and his band was phenomenal, and i’m a bit upset that he didnt get to play for the crowd that grinderman got to play for.

    Slowly Turning Into you by far was the highlight of the show, for the mere fact that everyone in the arena was engaged in the song. If you took a look around, everyone was standing up and participating, it was really an amazing thing to see. It was so special.

    It wasn’t a frat chant, the last thing that song reminds me of is some sort of frat anthem (listen to blink 182 for some frat anthems). Its great call and response with the audience. Sure, the audience did it way too long, but it was exciting nonetheless. When he walked across the platform, it was typical jack white showmanship, and i loved every second of it. I never felt it was out of character.

    The staples like Jolene, Cold Cold Night, are crowd favorites. I expected seven nation army, and we got it, and thats when i wanted to hear it, at this monumental show. I didn’t want to hear it at irving, that was a show for the diehards, but i did want to hear it at msg. Their biggest song for their biggest concert.

    This was a show for A LOT of people, their biggest audience ever i’d presume, a lot of those people are probably white stripes first timers, and wanted to hear songs that they are familiar with. I”m sure jack kept this in mind.

    This is not that show, but by no means does it make it any less of a brilliant show.

    Another white stripes regular named frank said something very interesting which i completely agreed with.

    The Stripes playing MSG is a must see experience because we’ve seen them play small venues for many years, for two people to bring down the house at MSG is something every long time fan should have seen.

    Similarly, an established band like “Metallica” or any other extremely established band, playing the MSG would be unremarkable, but if Metallica played a 2,000 capacity venue, yeah, that’d be an event to see.

    This is the other side of that.

    There was definitely special merchandise there, i bought that ‘nobody knows how to talk to children’ pin, that i love, and the kilts weren’t my thing, but those are certainly special items. Rob Jones posters are as always, works of art.

    Oh and $60 a ticket is more than generous. Its the garden.

    I made sure i was the first person on the line for this show, so i could be right up against the barricade, and it was worth it. For me the show was as intimate as Irving, i know it was like that for everyone else near me, but that didn’t stop everyone in the nosebleeds from enjoying it. Seeing them chant during Slowly Turning Into You, was by far my favorite moment.

    How far they’ve come. At this rate they will be rock and roll legends come next album.

    This show is a definite career highlight, a brand new plateau for them. I’m really happy for them, they deserve it more than any other band right now. They did things the right way, maintained their integrity throughout their career, and proved that you can still “make it” the traditional way.

    Hey jack, if you’re reading this, i love your excursions with marimba and bagpipes, but for the next one, a pure guitar and drums album with occasional piano would be wonderful.

  2. you know, back in the day the WS didn’t care about playing to the crowd and making sure they enjoyed themselves. they used to play songs that people couldn’t identify b/c they were obscure folk songs… which was kinda educational. it’s weird to see the shift from them doing whatever they wanted and them trying to please an audience.

  3. It’s hard for me to imagine any real music fan never having been to The Garden. You’ve missed a lot! You don’t do the same show in front of 18.000 people as you would at Irving Plaza. I loved both shows for different reasons. And your review of Grinderman shows you may be an expert on The White Stripes but you know very little about music in general.

  4. I know what you mean Laura, and during little bird, i was hoping he would segway it into “Lord, i Just cant keep from crying” Just Like he did here:

    but overall, it was still enjoyable but for an entirely different reason from Irving, if it was my first white stripes show, i would have been made a fan for life. It would have lead me to discover the rest of their music.

    Grinderman was noise, Laura certainly seems to know about music, a lot of people didn’t like it, and its not that people weren’t up for a different brand of music, but it was way too abstract and noisy. During the set, i felt like wow this is something my rebellious nephew would love. Its no surprise i didn’t like a band who had a song called “no pussy blues”.

    Yeah i missed the educational side of the white stripes, i i agree 100% but they’ve been that way a couple of times now. By the way, there wasn’t a lot of the traditional educational side of jack at the Irving show either but you liked that one too!

    This was my first time at the garden too, not because i’m not a music fan (thats absurd reasoning) but because a band i loved never played the garden until now.

    I mean i saw the strokes and beck play at the theater at the garden, but those were subpar shows.

    Jazz, are you saying i would be a real music fan if i saw “christian aguilera” at the garden?


  5. well they played Lafayette Blues, Stones In My Passway, Yer Blues (Beatles!!), Party of Special Things To Do

    in CT tonight, so i guess he reserves those kinda songs for the more intimate gigs

  6. Heaven forbid they show a little emotion and have some fun up on stage. Like OMG, what was with Jack cracking a smile during the last few songs? What a sellout!!!

  7. “Was he pandering to the crowd?? Don’t bother thanking us for liking your music, or being such a good audience…just thank us for spending dough that will put your kids through college.”

    maybe he meant, “thanks for BUYING our albums, and not illegally downloading them.”

  8. I’ve never been on this blogsite before and never will again but whoever writes this is a young moronic idiot that knows nothing about music and was clearly NOT at the same show I was at!

    The WS were stunningly BRILLIANT dears – and that’s coming from someone that saw Hendrix, Joplin and Jim Morrison among others in their heydays. To call it “pretty unremarkable” shows only your youthful inexperience and thinking that bands like Fall Out Boy are cool and original.

    True rock fans – dinosaur or otherwise – that were there, saw only an AMAZING show in the world’s most famous arena. Many of us went expecting to be disappointed, not thinking for a moment that the two of them would be able to fill the massive space with their sound. No doubt about it, we all came away true believers.

    p.s. GRINDERMAN were phenomenal in their debut US show (they had appeared on Letterman the night before). They may not have been to everyone’s liking, but with the exception of the usual bunch of doofus kids who use concerts as a good excuse to turn into drunken, stumbling, beer-guzzling fools, they were VERY well-received by most of the sold-out show. And for the record, Jack White personally selected his opening acts for this gig so trusting his musical taste and influences should be a no-brainer.

  9. @ jjazznola:

    You must be off your rocker if you think MSG has any significance for having knowledge of music. I’ve been to MSG numerous times and not because I like the damn place. It’s because the bands I see tend to believe they need to play there at least once just to 1-Up their resume.

  10. i liked this review a lot. because i feel the same way about some things as a fellow long time fan. I had to see them at the craptacular Agganis Arena in Boston Monday night and not only did the show sound horrid (due to aforementioned crap venue) but the show was so short i barely had time to break a sweat. i think they were unhappy with the sound as well. However, they still knocked me on my ass and i am happy i was able to see them. i love reading your blog and appreciate your honesty. rock on Miss M.

    PS – i do wish they did Jolene here only because i’d been wanting to hear it 🙂

  11. ‘ maybe he meant, “thanks for BUYING our albums, and not illegally downloading them.” ‘

    Bingo! The bar comment was kinda cute too. But it looks like MM was in a bad mood. I agree about Jolene and the rest, but with a crowd this size they probably felt they had to play songs the majority were familiar with to keep the momentum up. They usually don’t have special merch [$5 t-shirts at the Garden? Yeah, right], but New York got one of the best posters of the tour so far.

  12. Wasn’t there, have no right to comment BUT… I truly believe that the reason they played MSG was absolutely to pay for Canada. And if they filled 20,000 seats, you better believe they are going to play what the crowd wants to hear. It is either a curse or a blessing that we “older” fans heard them long ago because we feel like we “know” them and still want the intimacy. Not going to happen anymore because too many people have discovered them and love them. The reason I love them so much is that they were willing to go to Canada in the middle of nowhere so that they could gain the kind of fan base that we all were way back when. I respect them and I will always be a fan whether I see them in a crowd of 600 or 60,000.

  13. on the “buying our albums” thing, i did think he could have meant it that way, but at the time I was also pretty annoyed with the “party row” in front of me, so everything seemed to be awful at that point in time.

    on the whole “i don’t know anything about music” issue–i think i clearly stated in my post that i do not claim to know ANYTHING about Nick Cave and his musical legacy and i did mention that many people have a great respect for him as a musician. but like with any art form, there is no “right” or “wrong” opinion in terms of whether or not something is good. I didn’t think the live performance was particularly good. they need work.

    i realize people are going to get upset because of this review, but i just wouldn’t feel right saying that the show was “awesome” or “amazing” when I really didn’t feel that way. i am not claiming to be the absolute authority on what makes a good White Stripes show–there are many factors that could contribute to how someone feels about a particular concert. Maybe they played a bunch of songs that were YOUR personal faves–you loved it. However, to me, it was a lot of shiz I’ve heard and seen before.

    i’m just reminded of the fact that i gave a bad review of the first Keyspan Park Stripes show and people tore me down for it like I was jaded and over the Stripes–but then sure enough the next night was AMAZING — so it’s not like i have some hard and fast feeling that when the Stripes play a big venue they are going to be not so great.

    i wish they had done two nights in NYC–everyone knows that the second night is ALWAYS better when it comes to WS shows.

    i’m SO jealous of the CT setlist!

    however the ONE SONG that i’ve always wanted to see them do but never have is EXPECTING. WHEN WILL THAT DAY COME?!?!? Has anyone ever seen them do that song live?

  14. I just want to say that I completely disagree with your interpretation of the show. I thought it was absolutely fabulous and couldn’t have been better for a place like MSG. They made it feel small which is almost impossible! It felt pretty intemit to me and I was in section 96!

    The White Stripes have a much bigger catelog of music now compared to years back so they obviously filled up the setlists with more popular music than in the past. You can’t expect them to fill up the setlist with songs from their earlier work at MSG especially when people paid between $60-$100 a ticket!

    Most and almost all musicians that play rock and roll music dream of becoming rock stars, making millions of dollars and playing at MSG. Well thats what Jack and Meg did. Do you really think the White Stripes want to play small clubs and venues their whole life? How will they make money and reach a larger audience? I think a lot of people lose sight of that when they continoulsy listen to Indie Rock. This is why they play smaller venues from time to time. Its something special for the diehard fans. Not the casual fans that just came to know them recently. MSG was done to please the casual fan and put a smile on the diehards faces for them finally making it!

    And how can you even try to compare a show from the Bowery Ballroom to a show at MSG? You really think it was going to be similar? Please just give them a break and try to understand what they were at MSG to do. To play a great show that could put smiles on 20,000 peoples faces and not 500. It’s much harder to do, and let me tell you, they did a pretty good damn job of it.

    And by the way, I thought Grinderman was freaking awesome! How you didn’t like it amazes me and shows you how different peoples opinions of rock and roll are. You should give it another shot b/c it is really good stuff.

  15. I wasn’t at the show (and won’t be seeing them this tour because they aren’t going to play anywhere near me and I can’t travel to a show at this time), so I eagerly awaited this review. And you know what? I wasn’t disappointed that Laura didn’t love it. I appreciate her honesty. Clearly, she loves, loves, LOVES the Stripes…but this show may not have been the stuff of legend for her. Give HER a break.

  16. i wasn’t comparing this show to Bowery… (was I?) in my mind i was comparing it to that of the two shows at Keyspan Park last year, which would have been around 5,000+ people–a fairly big venue.

  17. Not sure it was mentioned in the comments but there was a limited addition poster but you had to get there early for it.

  18. “Oh and there was that one comment that Jack made during their bows, thanking the audience for buying their albums.”

    You are really nitpicking by criticizing them for saying thank you.

    “There wasn’t any songs where I gasped and said, “I can’t believe they are playing this!” ”

    “But as soon as I heard the intro to “Jolene” I kinda rolled my eyes.”

    I have every single song WS have ever released including b-sides, covers and also many bootlegged concerts. When I go to see them in a large venue like MSG, I want and expect to hear the hits and crowd pleasers. That’s what big shows are all about. Why play songs that most people don’t know.

    One more thing. Nobody has given props to Jack for trying to put together an interesting night of music by getting different types of opening acts instead of just picking another popular band or some crappy band the record company is trying to promote. A great night of music, I enjoyed all three acts a lot.

  19. I think they had to play this kind of show at MSG. Probably less than 10% of the audience consisted of diehard fans & if they’d played what we wanted they would have gotten bad word-of-mouth & bad reviews. I enjoyed this more than Keyspan I; the energy in the encore transcended the by-the-numbers setlist. And any time the slide guitar appears & plays Little Bird I’m happy.

    I’m a longtime bootleg collector & Jack has said, “Thanks for buying our records” going way back. I’m a real cynic generally, but I think he’s genuinely happy that people actually buy their stuff.

  20. Jeez Louise, calm down people

    Laura is an insane WS fan as anyone who reads this blog knows – let her have an opinion.

  21. Jack can thank me for buying his album, and i will thank him for making an album worth buying in return.

    thats how i feel.

    and yeah i feel like a jerk for selling my CT tickets now.

  22. Well-expressed as always, Laura, though I disagree. I thought it was twice as good as the Keyspan Park show.

    For what it’s worth, nobody plays MSG for a payday. It’s a prestige venue, which means the artist ponies up a quarter-mil or so just to play there. The artist is lucky to break even at MSG, even if they sell it out (which the Stripes didn’t even come close to) but everybody wants to play there anyway because it’s MSG. They could have made a lot more at Jones Beach. Whatever they went to MSG for, it wasn’t money.

  23. Woah someone became a cynic awfully fast based on one damn show. It sounds to me like you’re just a tad jealous that Canada got some special treats. You also got a special treat at the Irving Plaza show based on that setlist. As a pretty big bootleg collector I can tell you there have been numerous shows with pretty standard setlists going way back. I can tell you Jolene will be #4, Yorba #5, Dead Leaves #1, Black Math #2, and so on. So does that mean that every single time they’ve performed a standard set they were doing it strictly for the bucks? By your logic that seems to be the case. I think The Stripes play songs based on the vibe of the crowd. If it’s not a particularly inspiring crowd, then chances are it won’t be a particularly inspiring set. You’re lucky enough to have seen them many times. Unfortunately, it seems like that turned out to be as much of a curse as a blessing because now you expect them to pull a rabbit out of the hat at every show. If you haven’t seen the entire Connecticut setlist that was posted in the Little Room I suggest you go look at it to assure yourself this US tour is not strictly a money making venture. By the way, Jack has said “thanks for buying our records” in nearly every single bootleg I’ve heard from 2001 to present.

  24. I too feel as though Jolene should kind of be retired for a while. And I will also agree that Cold Cold Night should be dropped for Rated X. However I knew that MSG was going to a more straight forward show so I went up to Nova Scotia for both shows, CT last night, I will be at VA on Saturday and ACL and Stubb’s in September. And I am still trying to do more shows and I have seen them over 30 times since 2001. So what I am saying is don’t be jadded because this show wasn’t your favorite. For me it was nice set in the middle of a great tour. They are stil very much in top form and still trying lots of new stuff live.

  25. I agree with the jolene opinions for the most part, the best part about the irving show is that he completely cut off jolene and kicked into another song, because it was a show for the fans.

    msg was a show for everyone.
    i’m glad i was there to see it.

    there was some truly magical moments during the night that makes me glad i went.

    i second the motion for the retirement of jolene though.

  26. i really wish you would just stop writing
    about my band.
    you don’t get it.
    and you never will.

    how can i respect someone who didn’t
    get to the show early enough to
    see porter wagoner?

    does fall out boy sell sewing kits?
    custom made kilts in the white
    stripes own registered tartan?
    limited edition silk screen prints
    at EVERY show that are unique
    to ONLY that show?
    what do you want nude portraits
    and a shirt with your name on it?

    you don’t know what you want,
    therefore you’ll never get it.
    in case you missed it, there
    are thousands of people who
    want to hear a song they recognize
    that paid hard earned money to hear
    it. you weren’t the only one there.


  27. For a more intelligent review of this show read the front page of the NY times art section today online…miss modernage your review reads like a spolit 16 years old text message to her high school pals. Where has your brain gone? Maybe its still at a Ryan Adams show. For all your years of blogging about music I’m shocked by your lack of respect or knowledge of the WS, Nick Cave and the great Porter Wagoner. You showed your true colors, now show us your face…

  28. Even though I had the time of my life at this concert (my first WS concert and I was in the second row GA!), I have to agree with Laura regarding the setlist. The White Stripes have been playing 7NA to close their concerts, with Boll Weevil as the bonus for quite a while now. Their openers are also predictable. I can understand where Laura’s coming from, but to me it was such a memorable concert because of his guitar work on Catch Hell Blues and You Don’t Know What Love Is. He was all smiles during the encore (starting with We’re Going To Be Friends) and just seemed so pleased with the crowd. I could swear he not only looked straight at me during Boll Weevil but he sang along with me specifically (which was awesome as compared to Nick Cave looking straight at me and singing “I’ve got the no pussy blues! Or maybe it was at the hot blond next to me that was there for Nick alone and left as soon as Grinderman finished their set). Back to the Stripes, Jack played a very energetic set and commanded every single person in that arena from early on. I expected a short set and perhaps a bit of fatigue, but the songs just kept on coming and the energy level got higher as the end came along. I do wish I could’ve attended Irving and I’m sure it was probably better, but considering this was MSG, this concert far surpassed my expectations.

  29. #26 & #32
    Does anyone else find it ironic that people defending jack for saying ‘thank you for buying our records’ collect bootlegs?

  30. Not at all. I buy all their stuff, too. But each show is unique. You can tell from Laura’s disappointment with MSG that some performances can get wonderfully eccentric. And that’s what bootleg collectors prize the most.

  31. Laura is TOTALLY spot on with this review. Anyone who has been a long time fan would feel the same way.

  32. since you think that they don’t have interesting merch
    laura, do you remember when you saw them at coney
    island? and you DIDN’T buy a triple inchophone that
    they were selling? no one bought one the first show
    that includes you,
    so obviously when you see interesting merch
    you are either too ignorant to ‘GET IT’ or
    way too cynical to participate in something cool
    and unique.

  33. i’d also like to say that some of the stuff i wrote in the original post i now have a different perspective about after reading all of your comments… but i said what i said. i appreciate the lively debate–the whole point of putting up such a no-hold’s bar blog post is to have people discuss the show. i think we all know our opinions can change after having an open dialog w/ others. i’m glad everyone is so passionate about the Stripes, no matter what their feelings about the MSG show.

  34. Laura aren’t you going to respond to my comment in post #32? I think it’s silly that you think standard set list = pandering or bringing home the dough. I don’t understand how one show could turn you into a cynic all of a sudden. It seems like you’ve been spoiled by all the shows you’ve been to.

  35. Hey Laura! I just wanted to say this was my first White Stripes show eva’ and it was the best! I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and HATE YOU…even though I don’t know you! LOL!!1!
    You’ve seen and have more experience with them than me, but that doesn’t matter! 😛 😛

    I wouldn’t have any standards of what a good WS show is because like I said – This was my first show! I’m not loyal enough to wait on line for them at a proper venue or actually do any research about them, their principles, or their music. I only know their “hits” and that’s what I’d expect from a band that plays at MSG, ok? Who needs albums when you can listen to the radio?
    It’d hurt my naive lil’ head if they added any kind of spontenuity. I’m glad they played like they had a setlist, because if I were front row, I’d climb over to get one LOLOL!

    What’s that line they always talk about in “Little Room”?? I don’t get it. The bigger the better, I say! And what’s bigger than MSG, right?!?
    Anyway, I know this is your blog and you have a right to your own opinion but I don’t care. You suck. I think my review is better! When I have a love for something, I believe everything it incorporates is great! Guaranteed. The concept of highs and lows are absurd! You’re absurd! Ok, Bye! BTW, Big fan of your blog!!1!

  36. they certainly haven’t abandoned their educational side, or their knack for throwing in improvised stuff (the thrash metal riff that converged into i think i smell a rat and then into the pulp fiction theme at irving was outstanding)

    the ct and the irving set lists was proof that they aren’t just playing their staples. plus they played lord, send me an angel at boston. so jack can still be as spontaneous as he wants to be.

    yeah we’ve heard jolene live a shitload of times live, but only because pay to see him everytime he plays. jack knows that he gains new fans all the time, so playing jolene is for them.

    i will sing along to anything he decides to sing.

    am i jealous of those canadian gigs? sure, but they earned it. i think when american concert goers stop being so god damn apathetic at concerts, then he’ll give us the kind of shows we used to get, and the kind of shows canada got. playing in often neglected places in canada was if anything, an attempt to get the kind of energy and excitement from crowds that he used to get.

    remember what jack said in his charlie rose interview?
    concerts aren’t movies right? if you want a better set, act like its a rock and roll show!

    i can only imagine how exciting the 10th anniversary show was, i heard the applause and cheers were deafening. now that is a show where i’m sure jack reciprocated that energy with a great performance and an amazing set of songs.

  37. I just found this review (only a week later), but I whole-heartedly agree with it. Although I enjoyed the show, I was disappointed by the aspects mentioned in the review.

    I saw the WS on their “Elephant” tour at Roseland and they rocked. Although I enjoyed the MSG show, I was somewhat disappointed. I feel that playing the Garden lacks the same intimate fan bonding experience as they provide in a club and it’s hard to get an arena crowd involved in the show (although Jack did try).

    I had great seats, but for those fans across from the stage, the view must have been scant without video screens.

    I also agree with the “Jolene” comment. A few times it’s a novelty, but now it’s over played. Anyone know why they didn’t play “The Hardest Button”? One of my favorite songs and videos.

    The merchandise also did suck. I will keep washing my bootleg “Jack and Meg” T-shirt by hand in cold water.

    Feel free to email me:

  38. nothing the Stripes do will please anyone now. try to play a legendary venue, bring unique merch, play songs that built your reputation as a live performer and you make it sound like he phoned it in. I can see you sitting there with your arms folded, looking at your watch…blogs are really hard work for no appreciation.
    Oh, I’m a big fan by the way, so I have a right to make backhanded comments about your site.

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