The White Stripes finally release their first live album, and it gives people who have never seen the duo in concert the chance to hear the glorious mess that is the White Stripes live show. Listen as guitar lines from the studio versions change to piano, tempo becomes increased to the point that frontman Jack White can no longer fit all of lyrics into each verse, and a thick layer of grimey distortion turns the song into a wall of enjoyable sound.
The show starts at a frenetic pace, with Meg White’s bass drum beating faster than Jagerbomb induced heart palpitations. Things slow down for a bit before the band pulls out their biggest and possibly best song – Seven Nation Army. This version is filthy, with distortion all over the place and the song gets hijacked at one point by the audience singing Jack’s distinctive deep guitar chords. The audience is a little too present in the mix of the album, with the quieter songs sometimes overrun with the screams of the crowd.
Under Great White Northern Lights was recorded while touring Canada in 2007, and most days consisted of a small random show during the day followed by the larger show at night. Some of these small shows took place at such famous venues as Locas Bar and Billiards and Downtown Bus Lane #2 and it is these kinds of strange, careless acts which gives the band their charm, both on and off the stage.
This is definitely not an album for people just discovering the genius of Jack White. If you have never heard the studio versions of the songs then it will probably sound like a giant mess of guitar and bass drum. For those who already love Jack’s work this will be a long overdue addition to the collection and should tide you over until they tour our state again.
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