The White Stripes Triumphantly Bring Amateur Hour to the Garden

Jack White, always in Meg's shadow. Photo: AP Photo/Stephen Chernin

Jack White of the White Stripes took to the stage last night at Madison Square Garden wearing — what else? — red jeans and a red T-shirt. You almost had to laugh. How long can a man get away with such an outfit before he turns into Santa Claus? And can we discuss Meg White for a moment? Her pants were black, but she otherwise seems unchanged from when we first met the band in 1999. The story before each White Stripes album or tour is that her drumming has improved, and surely that must be true, if for no other reason than it could go nowhere else.

Last night, Meg made her "Madison Square Garden lead vocal debut," as Jack put it right before he respectfully turned his back to the crowd and let her have center stage for "In the Cold, Cold Night." Oh, God, it was awful, as bad as when U2 lets a fan strum an acoustic guitar along to "Knocking on Heaven's Door." Meg, great as she looks onstage, is pure amateur hour, but that obviously does something for Jack. How can we tell? As good as the Raconteurs can be live (and as awesome as he was when he played "Loving Cup" with the Stones at the Beacon last year), he is never better than when he's onstage with her. —Hugo Lindgren