The White Stripes Cunard Centre, Halifax NS July 13

Hearsay misled hundreds to the top of Citadel Hill for an afternoon White Stripes sideshow that was so secret it didn’t happen. As it turned out, Jack and Meg were on hand at Fort George for a special firing of the noon gun, not a concert on the hill. The pair re-emerged a few hours later at Salter Street’s Locas Bar and Billiards for an impromptu short set in front of the few who managed to separate the signal from the noise, on a day with more than its share of static. All of this treasure hunting added to the excitement that already surrounded the White Stripes’ Nova Scotia debut, which was a homecoming of sorts for Jack White. The sometimes less-than-reliable White claimed ancestral ties to Cape Breton, and local genealogists not only agreed, but discovered White to be a distant relation of fiddling greats Buddy MacMaster, Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac. So when the kilted Stripes took to the stage of the Cunard Centre, a renovated cargo shed packed to the gills on Halifax’s waterfront, they weren’t greeted as just any band from away. From the sharp blasts of opener "When I Hear My Name” to the rollick of "Bo Weevil.” an hour and a half later, the crowd hung on every note. Meg’s less-is-more drumming was big and brassy, Jack’s arch-Dolly warble on set-highlight "Jolene” was simply stunning, and his stutter-step catwalk strut midway through "I’m Slowly Turning into You” wasn’t far behind. At the end of the night, maybe it was the bagpipes, maybe it was the literal flag waving, but when Jack declared, "Nova Scotia, we’ve come home,” it seemed to mean something both to us, and to him.