It’s hard to rock when you’re surrounded by faux wood paneling and a studio audience that’s been paid with pizza. But that’s exactly where The White Stripes found themselves on Tuesday night, as the current keepers of Detroit’s rock lamplight got set to perform on CBS’ “Late Late Show With Craig Kilbourn.” Wedged into five minutes at the tail end of the show, Meg and Jack White did their best to tear the cover off of the ball with the same energy displayed on their recent tour. And if it’s possible to convey all of that grit and soul while performing on the decidedly soul-less “Late Late Show,” then the White Stripes hit a home run.
The worst thing about the band’s “Late Late Show” appearance was having to endure the hijinks of Kilbourn, a puffy-skinned worm of a man who is smarmy in ways we have not seen people be smarmy before. Watching him ooze all over Playmate of the Year Brande Roderick on a recent episode was just embarrassing. Yes, she is Playmate of the Year. But at least wait til the afterparty to jump her bones. Watching Kilbourn’s train wreck of a show makes me long for the Wilton-North Report. Nevertheless, whoever’s booking bands on the “Late Late Show” is doing a bang-up job. The performance space/hallway occupied by the White Stripes’ dualistic rock show has held the likes of Supergrass, Duran Duran, and intriguing up-and-comers The Josh Joplin Group. It may be a comedic backwater hosted by a blond-haired horny sloth, but it’s still exposure on national TV.
And into this bad trip of an LA talk-show nightmare came the White Stripes, bringing Detroit rock west under the protecting gaze of their hometown flag.
[Added video, 7/18/18. -ed.]