White Stripes make UK return with surprise ‘hospital’ show

The duo perform acoustic gig for Chelsea Pensioners

The White Stripes played a surprise acoustic show at the Chelsea Hospital in London this afternoon (June 12).

The duo performed their first UK gig for two years in front of an audience of Chelsea Pensioners – all ex-servicemen.

Playing in an ornate oak-panelled stateroom surrounded by imposing Georgian portraits, a room which which Mozart once played in, Meg and Jack White used just a stripped-down drumkit, piano and a white acoustic guitar.

Dressed all in red to match the pensioners’ distinctive coats, Jack introduced the band to possibly their oldest audience ever.

“I’m Jack White and this is my big sister Meg,” he told the seated veterans. “We’re from the United States, thanks for letting us into your home, we really appreciate it.”

They then kicked off the show with a piano-led version of ‘Apple Blossom’, before Jack introduced his new acoustic.

“This is my new guitar called Rita I named her after Rita Hayward, there’s a picture of her on the back,” he declared, spinning round the instrument to show the pensioners the stencil of the actress’ face, adding, “I remember her so you all must.”

Playing no songs from new album ‘Icky Thump’, the duo wrapped up the gig with favoured closer ‘Boll Weevil’.

“We won’t take up too much of your time, I heard it’s your cocktail hour,” joked the singer before telling the Chelsea Pensioners: “Besides letting us into your home my sister and I also want to thank you for your service to your country and to the world, especially the United States.”

The White Stripes played:

‘Apple Blossom’

‘Hotel Yorba’

‘We’re Going To Be Friends’

‘St James Infirmary Blues’

‘You Belong To Me’

‘Boll Weevil’

The duo are now set to perform a sold out show at the Rivoli Ballroom in south east London tonight, with proceeds from that show going to the Chelsea Pensioners’ Appeal plus charities supported by the London Pearly Kings And Queens Society.

NME.COM will be bringing you a full report from the gig tonight so stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile The White Stripes will headline the opening night of the O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park on Thursday (June 14) and Leeds on Friday (15).