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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
White Stripes paint the town red
The White Stripes in concert
The White Stripes are Meg and Jack White
The White Stripes are a US band taking the UK music scene by storm. BBC News Online's Andrew Godleman went to see them play at London's Dirty Water Club to see what the fuss is about.

This White Stripes concert was supposed to be secret, but the group are being hyped so outrageously that every ticket got sold within two hours of being available.

The duo's efforts to defuse the excitement, by playing themselves down, has only kindled the enthusiasm of the media.

Jack from The White Stripes
NME describes the White Stripes as "the sound of now"
They have turned down major concerts and magazine appearances, preferring to find music venues outside of the grip of major music promoters.

Promoter PJ told me: "There are loads of great bands, but it takes an American one to get people to take notice."

Billy Childish, artist poet and front man for cult bands The Milkshakes, Thee Headcoats, and more recently the Buff Medways, provided solo support.

He mentioned that the American "chaps" had asked him to perform some of the blues music that was their inspiration.

White Stripes
This is their first trip to the UK, but they've been playing since 1997
When The White Stripes arrive on stage they are wearing their trademark red trousers and white T-shirts.

Singer and guitarist Jack White confesses that he had been working in an upholstery shop but had brought his guitar to work and found he preferred it to working on a chair.

Within two songs there is sweat dripping off his hands. Jack's mop of hair slides over his face.

Drummer Meg White tilts her head playfully to one side, sometimes closing her eyes when she plays.

The two of them come across as kids that have sneaked a turn on the musical instruments whilst their parents are out.

Audience at The White Stripes gig
Tickets for the "secret" gig sold out in hours
They make it look deceptively easy, but Jack is an accomplished guitarist.

He switches sound mid-song from lead to rhythm, altering the sound with pedals and volume, achieving an effect that would take three guitarists in other bands.

Rapid changes in pace and style get the audience genuinely listening, although they are keen to jump up and down when the rhythm suits it.

Without bass guitar the sound is sometimes reminiscent of the early Cramps records.

The set seems to take no time at all, and I realize they have been very good at holding our attention.

"I hope, all stupid hype aside, some of you like our records" says Jack.

The crowd roar agreement and demand two encores.

He has no cause for concern: They've been mouthing his lyrics all night.

See also:

10 Jun 01 | Music
New York's new sound
05 Jan 01 | Entertainment
'Top 100' rock'n'roll albums
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