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The White Stripes, Dublin Castle, 4th May 2002

Heineken Green Energy Festival - Day 1 with support: The Dirtbombs, The Van Bondies.

Everyone is looking forward to the White Stripes, even people who aren't going and people who haven't heard of them. So much so that not even having our frisbees taken away by joyless security can dampen the mood. There's a real air of expectancy outside Dublin Castle that not even the strong smell of alcohol can explain as the crowd chills out with yet more beer as the support bands try warming them up.

It's a pity there's such a small crowd for The Dirtbombs - they're at least as good as a pint of Murphys. Regardless, they belt out some fine rock and roll to an appreciative crowd of about seventy, which grows as people stake out their places for the headliners. Onstage, their guitarist thinks he's cool, the lead singer knows he's cool and the bassist, Jim Diamond apparently, shouldn't be cool, but actually is. The band's double drummer attack punches their good-time tunes straight into your head, tunes that sound like a down-on-his-luck Kravitz wrote them. Good stuff.

Next up are The Van Bondies. They come onstage eventually and play Stooges covers for about half an hour, leaving little room for banter, as the lead singer is too busy looking cool and the bassist is almost completely hidden behind her massive instrument. Eventually they leave, which is something of a relief. If they tell you they wrote those songs themselves, they're lying. Go to the source, people.

The White Stripes are just a class apart. It's amazing to think that they've been doing this so well, for so long, without having been picked up before. Whatever, it's an absolute treat to watch them. Despite looking like he's still in his pyjamas - red, naturally - Jack White is some guitar player. He throws out hulking riffs and spits monstrous solos, all the while singing in a touchingly crackpot manner. That his sister Meg can keep up at all is amazing, but with such a dominating sound coming from such a little thing playing on such a small drum kit, all you can do is stand there grinning like an idiot.

All the hits are exhibited and then some. The crowd seems to know every word and appreciate every note, even from the relatively obscure early albums. What makes The White Stripes all the more special is the fact that they'd still be doing this, and still sound just as vital, if they were playing in front of five people instead of about five thousand. This is something you can believe in, not just another "next big thing" like At The Drive In or The Cooper Temple Clause.

Yesterday, the white stripes meant those three lines down the legs of an average scumbag's Adidas tracksuit bottoms. Today, The White Stripes stand for intense, robust music, and that can only be a good thing.

Dominic Body

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