The Band without a Bassist – White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights

Last night I checked out the White Stripes latest tour documentary, The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights which was recorded during their Canadian tour.  I consider myself a fan of the White Stripes and own a couple of their albums, but have never seen them live and don’t know that much about the band other than it seems lately Jack White has his fingers into a lot of different projects.  I definitely dig their music and find it interesting that they do not a have bass player, opting instead to just stick to drums and guitar with the occasional keyboard/piano incorporated into their songs.  I like their sound but they definitely sound bare bones.  It makes me wonder how they would sound if they actually had a bass player.

On this tour they actually hit every Provence in Canada playing small out of the way places, as well as the larger cities.  Jack does the majority of the talking with Meg remaining silent for most of it.  They do explain near the end that Jack is not just hogging all the attention, Meg is just a quiet person.  Jack acknowledges that everything they do prior to going on stage is pre-meditated and knows that they have created a certain image, but insists that the music is real.  To this end they do not have a set list as that they like to let the music take them where it wants to go.  There is some great insight here into the musical genius that is Jack White.  He talks about how he likes to create deadlines that he has to work against in order to force himself to be creative in a specific amount of time instead of just letting it flow naturally and taking all the time in the world to record an album.  He likes to build tension on stage by making things difficult for himself, for instance he doesn’t keep picks handy so if he drops one he has to run back to his amp to get a new one.  All of this helps him to be creative and spontaneous and keep things fresh.  Included here is footage from their 10th Anniversary show at the Savoy Theater in Nova Scotia, with Jack explaining how they have managed to stick around for so long when everyone thought they would just be a short lived gimmick.

I must say that I really enjoyed this documentary and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the White Stripes.  Jack White is obviously a very talented musician and Meg is a damn fine drummer in her own right.  They certainly do have style and a definite stage presence.  Both Jack and Meg seem truly genuine throughout the entire film which just adds to their charm.  I know I have a new, more favorable impression of the band, and even though they do not have a bassist I find myself wanting to take a closer listen to their music.

One Reply to “The Band without a Bassist – White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights”

  1. White Blood Cells (the entire record) had bass added to it by Steven Shane McDonald of Redd Kross . I think he had free Mp3s on his website but was forced to take them down

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