As the White Stripes blazed open their Merriweather Post Pavilion show Tuesday with the single "Blue Orchid," the thought was inescapable: How can two people make so much noise?
But for a nearly nonstop 95 minutes, the Detroit duo owned the audience with their primal, scorching, irresistible brand of blues-edged rock.
The Stripes' candy-cane color scheme was in place, with a red-and-white backdrop of palm trees and a sun-encircled apple making the stage look like a bizarro tropical paradise.
Just as theatrical were the stars: Jack White, a practical one-man band outfitted in a black top hat and red T-shirt and pants, and Meg White, Jack's "big sister"/ex-wife, whose alternately robotic and sultry drumming is simplistic but serves the music well.
The pair sped through 30-odd songs, some bleeding into others as Jack skipped the chitchat to focus on his multiple instrumentation -- guitars electric, acoustic and slide dominated, with visits to a grand and an electric piano, synthesizer, and later a marimba for set-closer "The Nurse."
Meg wasn't exactly overshadowed, projecting a magnetic presence while perched high at her red drum kit and even once taking center stage to sing "In the Cold, Cold Night." But it was Jack who nearly single-handedly -- and often -footedly -- drowned Merriweather with blistering rock.
-- Tricia Olszewski