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Under Great White Northern Lights

4.4 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 16, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

In the summer of 2007, shortly after the release of their 6th album 'Icky Thump', The White Stripes headed
north of their hometown of Detroit to embark on an ambitious journey across Canada. The plan was to play a show in every province and territory in Canada, from B.C. to Newfoundland to Nunavut. 'Having never done a tour of Canada, Meg and I thought it was high time to go whole hog... from the ocean to the permafrost' says Jack White. 'We wanted to play out of the way towns that don't usually get shows... the shows are better, it's better for the people, it's a better experience, it's way more unique, something interesting is going to happen... hopefully.'
White called upon filmmaker Emmett Malloy to come and document this trek for the band. Malloy had directed videos for
the band in the past, and seemed eager to hit the road with them. Equipped with a couple of 16mm cameras, and a few other documenting devices, the band and crew all headed north. The end result was 'Under Great White Northern Lights'.
'Under Great White Northern Lights' is a visual and emotional feature length film documenting The White Stripes making their way through Canada and culminating with their 10th anniversary show in Nova Scotia. The film documents the band playing shows all over Canada; from local bowling alleys, to city buses, and onward to the legendary Savoy Theater for the
10th Anniversary show. A show that turned out to be the longest show the band had ever done on stage together.
The film captures intimate moments of Jack and Meg both on and off stage as they travel through some of the most
remote parts of the northern Yukon Territory. Along the way, they have some nice casual conversations about their ten years together, fire cannons, play some of their biggest songs together on stage, and even play a 'one note show.' The cameras were there to capture every waking moment.
What 'Northern Lights' does best, is document one of the biggest bands in the world, playing to local crowds in small towns. Some of these towns were so small that many of the locals had no idea who The White Stripes were - they just knew something big was going on in their town. This forced a band that had been together for a decade to go back to a place reminiscent of the first shows they ever played together. For the first time in a long time, no one knew who they were and they had to make a first impression with their music. The live footage captured in this film shows that Jack and Meg were clearly ready for this.
Beyond the live footage, some of the films most memorable moments happen off-stage - offering an insightful look into the very private and complex world that is The White Stripes. It was shortly after this tour that The White Stripes canceled
their fall tour of the United States - making the ten year anniversary a truly pivotal milestone for this legendary band.
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Digital Booklet: Under Great White Northern Lights
Digital Booklet: Under Great White Northern Lights
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 16, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B0034JGBM0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,013 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This video is an adventure. It's the second White Stripes live DVD, following the concert-only Under Blackpool Lights. This DVD, however, is more of a documentary with live shows thrown in, rather than a concert DVD.

For those unfamiliar with the Stripes, they are a Detroit-based duo of Jack and Meg White (whom Jack presents as brother/sister though they were actually married AND divorced before their second album was released). Jack loves novelties and is obsessed with the number 3, and the band's motif of red, white, and black. If you are a fan of most types of rock, you will love them (or at least some of their assorted songs, there's at least one for everyone). I watched this with my parents (my mom loves Elvis and my dad is a Zeppelin fan), and immediately afterward they wanted me to add the White Stripes to their computers/iPods.

The movie follows the band as they tour each Canadian province and play shows, not only in concert halls, but in parks, on boats, on buses, in schools, and with native Canadians. It gives you a look into the day-to-day of Jack and Meg, and what their ambitions for the band and themselves are as far as the tour goes; Jack also gives great insight into what direction he follows and what creative process he uses for the band. Meg even talks, and they talk about why she never talks, to some laughs for those of us who know Meg as a shy, rarely-interviewed introvert. Interspersed as well are the novelty concerts that are paired with each major show, which show really not the novelty of each show but of Jack and Meg themselves, two oddballs with an idea that a band can be creative within the confines of an idea and a motif, and to explore this motif to its limit.

Now, on to the concerts themselves: blown away.
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Format: Audio CD
Your enjoyment of "Under Great White Northern Lights" will depend on two things 1. You must already like the White Stripes and 2. You must enjoy the current incarnation of the White Stripes. First for the people that will like this- this is rough and raw. The sound is dirty as hell and the songs are played at maximum volume for maximum effect. This is the White Stripes even more stripped down than on their albums. Jack White's vocals are more raw live than on record- the music acting as an exciter that pushes his vocals into higher registers. The guitar sounds like it is about to rip to pieces at any moment. Meg's drumming is, well, Meg's drumming- you can dig it or you can't- Me? I can dig it. Meg's simple yet rock solid bottom is what allows Jack to take flight and lose himself in layers of noise and chaos.
Now to the people on the fence- the set list definitely favors the newer material. The White Stripes seem to have lost much of the child-like innocence of the early records and have replaced it with a restless creativity, a darker sense of purpose and guitar tones that can test the patience of people more in tune with Jack White's "McCartneyesque" songwriting style of the first 3 albums. BUT like most good live records this is not some contract filler or holiday season toss-off- this album records a unique moment in the band's life- a time that perhaps finds them at a crossroads- this album and the tour behind it celebrated the first (hopefully not the last) decade of the band.
Look, in a nutshell- this is a live album- if you are a fan than you will find a lot to love here.
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Format: Audio CD
Approximately 59 minutes in length. The sound is very good,especially for a live recording. All the tracks are from a 2007 tour of Canada. The booklet has several atmospheric b&w and color photos of the band,audience,and related subjects. There's a DVD that's also for sale of this event,sold separately.

For fans of THE WHITE STRIPES,especially the intensity of the first few albums,this will be of great interest. This is the band,stripped bare to it's core elements of Jack and Meg,doing what they do best-Meg pounding out a primal,visceral beat,along with Jack's in-you-face distorted acoustic and electric guitar (along with keyboards and other instruments in places) in all it's glory. His vocals are a throwback to the group's formative years-very intense and immediate. The intensity of the live tracks on the earlier released "Walking With A Ghost",are only a hint of this set's power.

As an example,the first two tracks set the stage (no pun intended),and are pure WHITE STRIPES-these two tracks grab hold of you and don't let go,and are a glimpse of whats in store. Track three has Jack playing acoustic,but playing for all it's worth,with some great vocals. Then it's back to the fired-up sound they are known for. The tracks vary from there,from his trademark distorted electric guitar,to his intense acoustic sound,which help with the pacing,and add interest This concert series was an attempt to get back to what they originally became known for. Most (if not all) the venues were small,out of the way stops,and often times the group was unknown to the residents. This fact pushed the band to focus on what they do best,no frills-straight-ahead-rock. Tracks range from all through the band's albums,and all are given a no holds barred treatment.
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