Since hearing the news of a cancelled tour in September 2007, many White Stripes fans have yearned for more from this mega-duo. The cancellation was due to Meg White’s acute anxiety, which makes me wonder if this band will ever record another album again.
Being a mild fan of the Stripes, I’ve got say this maybe was not the best tour to record. The whole set seems a little off, and the product quality certainly is mediocre. To recant a bit, I feel it is very important to inform my readers that have never seen this band live, so therefore my thoughts are clearly based on the sole listening experience of this live record.
I find hard to understand that Jack and Meg heard this and said, “OK, it sounds great. Let’s run with it.” Again I do like this band. They are not my favorite band of all time, but even if they were I would not hold back. I am one who enjoys the raw elements of music, but – dare I say – that “Under Great White Northern Lights” feels and sounds like a bootleg.
I never thought of the Stripes as one of those bands who think well, the entire crowd is drunk, so crank it up to 11 and let’s blast ‘em out. That’s what this feels like to me. Some other great artists have a huge catalog of live recordings, and therefore we are used to hearing multiple versions of the same songs. This is the only live album the White Stripes have ever released, so it has to standalone.
The show, which opens with bagpipes, then “Let’s Shake Hands,” doesn’t even come together till the fifth track “The Union Together,” and even that falls apart about halfway through. The aggressive “Icky Thump” is an improvised, distorted mess. The random cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is odd, but given lack of focus from the early tracks, it is satisfactory. It’s not all bad though. “We Are Going To Be Friends” is beautifully gentle, like it should be. And the closing cut, a seven-and-half minute version of “Seven Nation Army” brings things to an above average conclusion.
Some of my favorite albums are live ones, but this record I will leave to the collectors to file deep away in their collections to look good next to the historic Stripes studio albums we all love.
2 STARS OUT OF A POSSIBLE 5