Those of us living outside of France might not know that today, July 14th, is Bastille Day, the French National Day that commemorates Storming of the Bastille in 1789, a significant event in the French Revolution. That day also holds a special place in the hearts of Jack and Meg White fans: On Bastille Day in 1997, The White Stripes gave their first ever live performance, at an open mic night at The Gold Dollar Detroit.
So, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that momentous occasion, White’s Third Man Records announced today that it has released of the performance digitally and titled it The First Show: Live On Bastille Day. Here’s the cover art:
The recording, which you can listen to below or here, is really high quality, since it’s a soundboard recording. Like the rest of The White Stripes’ early material, the performance is very bare bones, especially since it’s at an open mic: All we get are Meg’s simplistic drumming, and Jack White’s guitar and voice.
Even though it’s their first performance, you can already see White’s star quality. They perform two covers (Cab Calloway’s “St. James Infirmary” and The Clovers’ “Love Potion #9) as well as their original “Jimmy The Exploder,” and it’s almost eerie to hear the relative lack of applause between songs. You get a couple people shouting and clapping, probably because they’re likely playing to an audience of ten people or so. It’s intimate because nobody knew who these generational talents were yet.
The album was previously available on vinyl as part of the Third Man Vault subscription service, but this is the first time it’s available digitally, so stream it below and let us know what you think of this early White Stripes rarity (well, no so rare any more).
Featured image: Third Man Records