White Stripes: Under Moorhead Lights All Fargo Night (DVD)

The Stripes included a special DVD in their final-show fanclub release, documenting the early promise of the rock duo.

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

The White Stripes issued a beautiful double-vinyl release of their final live show for The Vault fan club members last week, and along with the Live In Mississippi album, a couple items were included to make any Stripes fan thankful they signed up for the service.

The package includes a 7″ record of early recordings featuring a cover of Arthur Lee's "Signed DC" and Otis Redding‘s "I’ve Been Loving You Too Long," which Third Man explains as such: “Recorded in Detroit in September of 1997 a mere two months after the Stripes’ live debut, this single provides a heretofore unheard era of the band. Although their debut single ‘Let’s Shake Hands’ wouldn’t be released for another eight months, this recording shows how fully-formed the general idea, aesthetic and approach of the White Stripes was from the very start.”

Additionally, the package also contains a superfan's gem DVD capturing an early show from the duo's 2000 tour, called Under Moorhead Lights All Fargo Night. Previously unseen footage from the band’s June 13, 2000 gig at Ralph’s Corner Bar in Moorhead, Minnesota, captures the band in their pre-fame glory, with nucleus Jack White a bit more subdued than the blues-demon guitar freakouts we'd see in later years.

The Stripes DVD isn't the stuff of casual-fan viewing. The video is comprised of amateur footage, likely by White's nephew and TMR stalwart Ben Blackwell. Lo-fi, relatively grainy and a seriously fuzzy on the sound, the DVD nevertheless captures Jack & Meg's pre-fame energy and the determined confidence these Candycane Children possessed, even when they were still club-rocking Detroiters trying to break out of the scene. 

The small club show is from the day the band's second album, De Stijl, was released, as Jack explains before a slower "You're Pretty Good Looking". A take on their beloved cover of Son House's classic Death Letter is a far more direct performance than later shows would yield, more in line with the version heard on De Stijl. Jack, apologizing repeatedly for the slight raspiness in his voice (most evident during Jolene), shows flashes of the groove-spaz solos that would come to define his onstage persona, but only enough to indicate a greater potential building.

Meg's side-cocked head & metronome beats are a welcome sight for Stripes fans still mourning the duo's split, her eyes nearly closed in focused time for a majority of the performance. Fans will also delight in seeing Jack sporting his trademark Airline 2P Deluxe guitar for a haunting version of "Truth Doesn't Make a Noise".

"Thanks very much, this is our last song," Jack shares before a medley of "Cannon" and "John The Revelator". "If you wanna buy the record or something, we'll be in the back."

White then proceeds to blow out his voice entirely during the "Revelator" segment, plowing right through it despite the failure of his instrument. Powerful stuff.

In a short post-show clip, Jack & Blackwell can be seen messing around, filming kids at the merch stand as they examine the Stripes' merchandise wares.

Under Moorhead Lights All Fargo Night Tracklist:

01. Let’s Shake Hands

02. Screwdriver

03. Wasting My Time

04. Jolene (Dolly Parton)

05. Death Letter

06. Little Bird

07. Apple Blossom

08. You’re Pretty Good Looking (for a Girl)

09. Your Southern Can is Mine (Blind Willie McTell)

10. Suger Never Tasted So Good

11. Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise

12. I’m Bored (Iggy Pop)

13. Cannon/John the Revelator

Photo: WhiteStripes.com