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The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights

October 18, 2009

I am a huge White Stripes fan, and one of my favourite gigs was in 2005 to see them on their “Get Behind Me Satan” tour in the grand surrounds of Alexandra Palace. So when the email from the BFI came into my inbox notifying me of the late addition to the London Film Festival “The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights”, I of course was straight in there booking a ticket.

This film is a documentary on their tour of Canada in 2007, where they aimed (and succeeded) to play every province and territory in that country. Film maker Emmett Malloy was allowed along to film Jack and Meg as they went about their business in entertaining those Canadians, eh. What he captured were some great moments with the band and gave more of an insight into the band itself.

As an aim with the tour was to play at the smaller towns, so a lot of the audiences have never had a band of that size play in their halls. The audiences seemed hugely appreciative and excited to see them play, and a whole rang of the towns folk were in attendance. From the teenagers to their grandmothers – all rocking out. The White Stripes also played sideshows in some towns during the day, which included flour mills and pool halls. My favourite was the bowling alley, and Jack White almost rolling a strike before playing a song.

The live performances were where Emmett captured the true essence of the band. The huge talent of Jack White shone through in the film as much as it does when you see him live. And it takes a person like Meg to control and conduct this, which takes just about as much talent. In the interview scenes, whenever Meg spoke it was subtitled which I found to be quite curious as she was perfectly audible. Half way through the film this was explained as an in-joke with the fact that it’s because Meg is so quiet.

So I walked away from this film wanting to see the White Stripes live again, and straight away switching them on as the soundtrack for my journey home. The journey home wasn’t long enough…..

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