The White Stripes
The Masonic Temple Theatre
Apr 16, 2003
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In Detroit, getting from the Gold Dollar to the Masonic Temple is impossibly simple. Traversing from front door to front door, online walking calculators peg the 0.2 mile trek as a one minute trip with a single easy right turn at a traffic light serving as the only course deviation.
But the path from the Gold Dollar open mic stage to headlining your biggest ever hometown gig is a little more extended. There's forays out up to the Magic Bag in the suburbs. A couple trips down to Toledo, hitting both Frankie's and the Bottle Rocket. Up and down both US coasts and everything in between in flyover country. United Kingdom and Europe a couple of times, Australia and New Zealand and even Japan too. A lot of van miles. A lot of airline miles. Untold amounts of hard work.
The White Stripes journey in the six years from their open mic night Gold Dollar debut in 1997 to their triumphant homecoming a block-and-a-half away at the Masonic Temple hot on the heels of the release of Elephant is nothing if not symbolic. And so too is the performance from that evening.
While the Stripes' true US debut that year was the evening prior at the smaller Scottish Rite Cathedral in the same labyrinthine Masonic complex...April 16th in the BIG ROOM was what everyone was waiting for. The space itself, while steeped in Detroit rock and roll lore hitting the MC5, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, etc, was largely ignored by concert promoters across the previous decade or two.
But with the intrinsic connections to the space...Jack's mom having worked the theater as an usher, it standing a stones' throw from where he attended high school at Cass Tech, the aforementioned proximity to the Gold Dollar...was ample reason enough to be the impact location for the White Stripes focus at their apex.
The set is strong. Vamps on early rock and roll standards like "Clarabella" and "Skinny Jim" all but illustrate a huge grin on Jack's face as he and Meg chug through them with equal parts confidence and abandon. The cover of Public Nuisance's "Small Faces" was SO deep and SO obscure that even the scribes at Rolling Stone couldn't properly ID the song and mistakenly credited it to the band named the Small Faces.
The album tracks sparkled as well...the crowd reaction was stellar and all-in-all it was a stunning night. A grand kick-off to a whirlwind year.
So it's a great privilege and honor to share this newly mixed audio from that night. While a solid-quality bootleg recording has been available since soon after the original performance, we think that this take straight from the mixing desk sheds some additional light on the evening.
Some additional notes re: Elephant-era live recordings...
- April 2003 would be the start of the White Stripes systematically capturing digital multitrack recordings of their show. Credit the foresight of then lawyer (now manager) Ian Montone in pushing the band to purchase a RADAR recording rig for the task. It was not cheap, but twenty years later is has certainly proved to have been worth it.
- the RADAR unit was an unwieldy beast. Live sound engineer Matthew Kettle fought with it often. So while an attempt was made to record every night, there are some holes in the archive. By the time the band hits the road in September, it's safe to say that just about every show they would play thereafter, until their final show in 2007, was recorded.
- all in all we've got approximately 100 shows from the Elephant touring cycle in the archive here. We won't focus ALL of our Third Man Third Thursday features on the White Stripes this year...but it will likely be a good chunk of them. If there's a show you might be itching to relive, I'm pretty easily found. Don't hesitate to reach out.
Setlist at The Masonic Temple Theatre, Detroit, MI on Apr 16, 2003
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