By at 9:33 PM Sunday, February 22nd 2009

 

We Can Be Friends, Jack, But Leave Meg Behind The Kit

The White Stripes, Music

 

Like most other White Stripes fans, I’d been anticipating Friday’s final “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” show with a level of excitement usually reserved for Christmas morning or first sexual encounters. Their appearance on Conan’s send-off was constructed as a triumphant return after two years of total inactivity as a band, including virtually zero touring behind their latest candycane masterpiece, 2007’s Icky Thump. Jack White, delta blues wizard and devil music savant, had raised his own bar more than a few notches with The Raconteurs on last year’s Consolers Of The Lonely- and while we knew better than to expect any new material being unveiled, there was at least a universal hope that we’d see some White fire to send Conan off proper.

return-of-the-stripes

Instead, we were witness to Meg’s utter hackery on guitar (cleverly masked by an echo effect) and missed vocal cues in a performance that seemed designed to show the world that Meg White Isn’t Afraid Anymore (remember: all the Stripes’ plans were scrapped due to her “anxiety,” which may or may not have had something to do with this), but came off awkward and unnatural, like your big sister trying to look cool and ballsy doing karaoke. The rose falling out of her hair and catching her up a bit didn’t help matters.

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It’s not that I don’t love the softer side of the Stripes, but this was supposed to have been a celebration, a jubilant ‘see you on the other side’ to Conan on his final “Late Night” performance. Jack could very well have killed the song on his own, as he has many times in the past. His vocals were nuanced, delicate and beautiful, and his end of the performance was as solid as ever. I was impressed with the subtleties in his style.

The echo effect on Meg’s guitar did little to hide her lack of ability. I feel bad for tearing into one of my very favorite bands, but Meg isn’t the star of this show. She’s there to keep a beat, and nobody’s under any illusions that she can even do that very well. Nevertheless, that’s where she should’ve been last night – behind the kit.

This was not the way to tell the world you’re back, Jack. Not when our fondest memories of you and Conan include this:

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and this:

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and this:

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Comparing Friday night’s appearance to their earlier performances on the show is like shining a flashlight at the sun. Here’s hoping we see a lot more from the White Stripes in 2009, and that Meg stays behind the kit from now on.

 
 

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24 comments
  1. Steve says:

    Her guitar playing was still better than her drumming.

  2. Joseph Rose says:

    I dunno man… the red and white shit? Like, wtf? Why have a gimmick like that?

  3. Ryan says:

    Thank God for the wonderfulness that is Jack White, and his ability to rule that performance. And completely block out the atrocity that was Meg White. And I’ll feel REALLY REALLY awful if she sees this article, and this comment, because she will probably never tour again.

  4. Yes, my literary crucifixions can derail the entire careers of even multi-platinum multi-millionaires. Feel my wrath. Muhahaaaa… or something.

    As for the candycane color scheme – there are far worse gimmicks to run with (cue parade of geometric hairstyles, doom fashion, etc.). If the substance weren’t there to back it up, I might agree with you. But everybody needs a horse to ride on their way up, I guess – but as you can see, they’ve toned it down quite a bit.

  5. Skwerl says:

    uh yeah, i’ve seen videos of joe’s band where everyone’s dressing the same. having an image / shtick is fine as long as you can back it up with musicianship. i wrote the white stripes off at first, but jack’s ridiculously talented.

  6. zoopster says:

    Awkward and hard to watch, for sure. I’m wondering whether it would have been better for him to do that one solo. Or at least just give her a tambourine or something percussive, just not a guitar, for God’s sake. She just looked weird looking over her shoulder trying to sing like that, she should’ve had her own mic or turned herself around to face Jack, a la Keith Richards/Ronnie Wood… The version of that song was cool though, it hardly sounded anything like the original. (And not just because of Meg)

  7. Joseph Rose says:

    I’ll offer 1 Million dollars in cash to anyone who finds a photo or video of me in a band where we’re all dressed the same. My band typically wears black shirts when we play (usually, not always) but when you see us walking down the street on an average Tuesday afternoon, we’re usually wearing… you guessed it, black shirts. In fact, AO usually wore a jacket/blazer of some kind, no one else did, nd Tom usually rolled in some wacky white sleeveless shirt that showed off his Nightmare Before Christmas tats to all the goth chicks. I usually rock a simple black dress shirt and Donna Karan pants that make my ass look good. No calculated image/schtick anywhere even remotely comparable to constant red and white striped outfits, instruments, and stage dressing. Like em or not, it’s a gimmick. That’s all I was saying.

  8. Skwerl says:

    ha, well i remember a conversation with you where you were bitching that the frontman of the month was the only one that didn’t dress right at the gig. how it looked ‘unprofessional.’ not judging you at all- i get it. my band dressed in all black at like, all three of our “last shows ever.” ha.
    but i’m sure you’ll agree with me, fellow mötley crüe disciple, that showmanship and looking “cool” is part of the job of a band. costumes may be unnecessary, and even annoying when a band sucks. compare slipknot to mushroomhead. but when a band is good enough, it successfully completes the brand and adds to the experience. see kiss’ makeup, marilyn manson’s theatrics, etc.

  9. Danterion says:

    Virtually zero touring? Fuck you, they toured every province and state of Canada, not to mention Europe.

  10. hahahahahahahaha “Nightmare Before Christmas tats”. Jesus.

  11. Skwerl says:

    what the hell is canada?

  12. Patrick says:

    I’m more curious about the Canadian States he talks of. I live here and I’ve never heard of em.

  13. Passenger says:

    Wow, that link sucked, why do such a thing anyway?

  14. Felyne says:

    @Patrick: come on, you know, states…. like… confusion…. chaos…. delusion….

  15. Erik Kot says:

    Thanks, Well written blog, please take a look at this: fashion design

  16. Maynard says:

    In retrospect this performance is pretty heavy. I enjoyed it.

  17. Sal says:

    I just think everyone is dising to hard. The White Stripes were crashing and burning, it was hard for them to go out with a bang twice….. Icky Thump 2007? Lets remember them as their old great selves. I realize that this is an old article but I found it today and all the White Stripes hate is crushing me.
    – A loyal fan

  18. You’re an asshole.

  19. How could you say these things about Meg! Yeah she isn’t the best guitarist because she doesn’t play guitar! The fact that she is willing to go out there and try something new in front of the whole world is amazing. She is an inspiration! So don’t insult her because she is doing something you would never have the guts to do!

  20. inoshishi says:

    Jack’s emotional response to this song is enough to put one in a deep depression! IDK why he was so emotional on that night, but it’s very gutwrenching & painful to see. :( As for Meg, I miss her a lot! Even though quiet, she’s the cheery, bubbly one! :P

  21. Giselle says:

    This last performance breaks my heart. Jack looks like he’s about to burst into tears. I never thought this song meant much more that what it seemed, but after this performance I think the White Stripes gave a new meaning to it, like a reference to the band breaking up yet leaving with a loving farewell. You can tell in the video how much Jack is affected because of the break up, hence why the song didn’t turn out so well musically, he could barely sing! and he didn’t play very well (same with Meg, but she really can’t sing or play guitar unlike Jack) but there was raw and true emotion, and I’m grateful that they let us see that.

  22. Bry says:

    I never had a chance to watch this when it aired, and i have been looking for one online forever. So grateful i found this site.This performance breaks my heart! You can tell that Jack knows that it’s their final goodbye, as well as Conan’s. I’m also pretty sure Meg is pregnant here, so thats probably why she didn’t get behind the drums. For two very private people, I feel like they let the audience in on a very intimate moment. Thank you White Stripes for the many years of amazing music!

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