“Everything but the kitchen sink,” said Melissa McClelland midway through her and her husband Luke Doucet’s performance on Monday night at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall, denoting the cluster of guitars, keyboards, drums, percussion, pots, pans, and sampling gadgets with which they’d just made a glorious racket on “No Glamour in the Hammer,” one of the many standout tracks on The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, their second and latest album as Whitehorse.
In what was the duo’s first-ever live performance in the state of Florida, Whitehorse made the most out of being the opener for fellow Canadians, Barenaked Ladies, packing in 40 minutes of some of the most exhilarating, well-written rock ‘n’ roll this writer has encountered in far too long. Kicking off with “Devil’s Got a Gun,” McClelland and Doucet shifted instruments and even microphones (as they would continue to do throughout the set) at an almost perpetual clip, ultimately bringing the song to its climactic close with both artists banging the hell out of his and her own marching-tom drums in synchronized wallops. Just as thrilling, “Radiator Blues” followed, its throbbing, Bo Diddley beat seguing into a bit of Diddley’s own “Who Do You Love” for good measure.
Both artists are remarkable talents in their own right, but McClelland proved especially superb throughout this all-too-brief performance, though not with as much shiver-inducing magnificence as on “Passenger 24,” one of the more ominous moments on her 2006 solo LP, Thumbelina’s One Night Stand. They concluded on a friskier note with “Jane,” giving the audience one last damn-good reason to look forward to their return.