Given the peppermint-candy drum kits and red-black-and-white costumes, The White Stripes clearly has as much affinity for pop art as roadhouse boogie. Between Meg White's reticence and Jack White's habit of feeding mystique-building bullshit to the press, the band has become an heir to the room-filling, attitude-heavy pseudo-blues of The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin. And just like Zeppelin's recent archival DVD collection, The White Stripes' concert film Under Blackpool Lights will one day stand as a record of what made the band so special.
Shot on grainy film that makes the reds pop out from the blacks, Under Blackpool Lights catches The White Stripes on a good night in the UK, running through an 80-minute set of some of the nastier songs from its four albums. Jack hides behind a mop of black hair when he's at his audience-facing microphone, but pushes his locks back when he's at his Meg-facing microphone, which he jumps to when he wants them to goose each other. The show skips too many of the hits, and director Dick Carruthers doesn't show Meg often enough—it's hard to spot her one-arm drumming trick on "Let's Shake Hands," for example—but the band's barely controlled energy burns throughout, veering into unexpected realms. On the set's highlight, a cover of "Jolene," the duo starts out with Velvet Underground spookiness and jumps to yelps of horror, making Dolly Parton's cuckoldry story into riveting pop theater.