The Last Waltz

I’m ashamed to admit this, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally got to see The Last Waltz, the famous movie (directed by Martin Scorsese) documenting the last concert of The Band, one of the most innovative groups in rock history. I’ve always loved their music and felt that, although they were quite popular at the time, they didn’t get near the attention they deserved.

The film was made on Thanksgiving Day in 1976 and was released two years later. It’s a magnificent achievement—in my opinion one of the three best films about rock in history, including Stop Making Sense and Woodstock.  The musicianship is superb, and there are many guest stars, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Emmylou Harris, Van Morrison, Dr. John, and Eric Clapton.

Here are a couple clips from the movie, but they don’t come close in quality or sound to the Blu-Ray DVD version I saw.

“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (one of my two favorite Band songs, the other being “The Weight”):

What impressed me most about this movie was Rick Danko’s work on bass, which was fantastic. Robbie Robertson, of course, is also a world-class lead guitarist. Everyone in the band, including Garth Hudson, Levon Helm, and Richard Manuel, was a superb musician, even if they were often drugged out. Sadly, both Manuel and Danko are now dead, the former by suicide the latter from drugs.

Here’s Clapton and Robertson with duelling guitars on “Further on up the road”:

And “Helpless”,  with Neil Young. Wikipedia says that this number was edited to remove a blob of cocaine that was hanging from Young’s nose (apparently there was a white room backstage, adorned with plastic noses, where the performers would go for a snort). Joni chimes in from offstage; the audience couldn’t see her.

And don’t miss Joni Mitchell’s performance of “Coyote” (I can’t embed it, but you can see it here), one of the best performances of the concert and a wonderful live rendition of a difficult song. Sadly, the sound quality is poor and a bit muted.  Check out Danko’s lively work on the bass.

I suppose that, taking into account both production quality and the musicianship, I’d consider this the best rock concert movie ever made. Woodstock was great but had some forgettable performances as well as the great ones (Santana, Hendrix, Richie Havens).

Do weigh in below with your opinions and choices of other concert movies.


  1. GBJames
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    I always loved The Band. Stage Fright has some great songs. Like The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show. But all of their albums were great.

    • GBJames
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Prompted to explore, I find that they did a reunion tour in 1983. Here they are playing W.S. Walcott Medicine Show

  2. Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Another great video – Roy Orbison and Friends – A Black and White Night.

    • Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink


      Scorcese’s Rolling Stones concert film, “Shine A Light” is also very good. The prelude to the actual concert could stand on it’s own as a short tour de force of filmmaking, and the concert footage is exhilarating.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      It’s good, but my local PBS station plays this for every single membership drive.

      • Posted November 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Good point – since we own the disc, I surf right on by because the discontinuity is really annoying.

  3. gnome
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Some faves:
    -Joni Mitchell Shadows and Light. Great band with her, Pat Metheny, jaco Pastorius, Michael Brecker, Lyle Mays
    -Steely Dan Two Against Nature. Talk about musicianship. Complex, funky music played by top players
    -Led Zeppelin The Song Remains the Same. If you can overlook Robert Plant’s sometime whiny, high pitched singing, the other three guys are wicked. Recently remastered and sounds amazing.
    -Pat Metheny Group (Several) Imaginary Day Live, The Way Up Live, The Road to You. Just great music played by one of the world’s most interesting jazz ensembles. They use vocalists but no lyrics!(They sing nonsense syllables)
    -Paul Simon You’re the One. Paul is great. His band is great.
    -Radiohead From the Basement In Rainbows. Terrific.
    There’s more but that’s enough, I think…

  4. Peter
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I’d hate to think of myself as a chauvinist, but given the relative obliviousness of USians to these sorts of things (though I guess most of them realize that none of the Beatles, nor the Rolling Stones, nor Clapton from this concert, hails from the part of America which happens to lie below the Great Lakes and above the Rio Grande), note how ‘Canadian’ that concert is: most of the Band, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. But they all need to migrate south to make the big bucks!

  5. Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    As wonderful as The Last Waltz is, will I be the first to mention Stop Making Sense?

    • Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Ahh, you didn’t read my post. See the second paragraph.

      • Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        I was too busy watching the embedded clips! Mea culpa.

  6. CJ
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I love The Last Waltz.

    Some others that come to mind are:

    Eric Clapton Unplugged

    Stevie Ray Vaughan Live at the El Mocambo

    Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii

    Led Zeppelin (Live DVD Collection)

    John Mayer Where the Light is

    • CJ
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Jesus, can’t believe I forgot my favourite band.

      Grady “Calling All My Demons” Live at Winnipeg.

      Not sure if any of you have heard of Grady.  It’s fronted  by Big Sugar front man Gordie “Grady” Johnson.  It’s a 3 piece band that Gordie put together in Texas when Big Sugar disbanded (they’re now back together with a new album).

      Grady has three albums.  One in particular “A Cup Of Cold Poison” is so awesome it should be turned into a Cowboy Metal Opera.  They describe themselves as Cowboy Metal, but it’s not really.  It’s heavy blues.

      He’s got one song in particular that Jerry might like called “When The Boots Come Off”.  It’s a cool story involving some ostrich skin leather with flames up the side.

    • Bryan
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      One of these does not belong…

  7. Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks for highlighting all those great Canadian musicians: Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell.

    I still prefer Joan Baez’s version of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (written by Canadian Robbie Robertson).

    • ChasCPeterson
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      she sings it beautifully but mungs the lyrics

      • Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know about that.

        I, too, love her version.

  8. Stephen Barnard
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I can never hear Neil Young again without thinking of Jimmy Fallon’s brilliant “Whip My Hair” impersonation (with Bruce Springsteen).

    • Posted November 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Made me laugh. Fallon does a really good Dylan as well.

  9. Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Live concerts? Bass? Forget The Stones [& of course The Beatles aren’t even in the top 20]. In their day the masters were The Who followed closely by Led Zep.

    They were tight, hard & they were bloody loud. No guitar noodling & introspective facial grimaces from this joyous, attacking rock band. YouTube: My Generation at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970

    Bonus YouTube IoW track: Young Man Blues [a cover of Mose Allison’s Back Country Suite: Blues (a.k.a. ‘Young Man’s Blues‘]

  10. truthspeaker
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Jerry, have you checked out “Electric Dirt”, one of the albums Levon Helm released a few years ago? I love it. A little inaccessible, but good.

  11. Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I’ve never thought of The Band as being that innovative. Incredible musicians to be sure (even when they were so drugged out it was obvious in their performance; see below) but innovative? Maybe it’s just my lack of perspective, being a “young” (33!) whippersnapper and all…

    A pet peeve I have… See, the drummer in my band is obsessed with The Band, which means we’ve learned a few of their covers, even though that type of music wouldn’t be my first choice for what I want to play (or second, or third, or fifteenth choice). There is a version of King Harvest — it might even be The Last Waltz version, I can’t remember — where they have these weird tempo issues, and in the chorus the bass and drums are not together well (they are both supposed to anticipate the 3rd chord change by an eighth note, but one of them doesn’t do it in that one version). But it’s also a great performance with lots of that sort of can’t-put-your-finger-on-it energy, so it happens to be my drummer’s favorite version of that song. Which means he unconsciously tries to imitate their drugged-out mistakes. Took forever to break him of it. Now we don’t even do that song, hahaha…

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      I think one can make a very good case about their innovations. Not only was their sound unique but, more important, they wrote about things that were completely new to rock music. Think about “The night they drove old Dixie Down” (about the Civil War), “Old Rocking Chair” (one of my favorites), about two old sailors, and “The Weight”, about working folk in Pennsylvania. They were songs about working people, but done with extraordinary musicality. Rock hadn’t seen anything like that before.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        From the book (see 17 below) I learned that Dixie and I think others were the result of visits to the local library for ideas for songs.

    • GBJames
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      We forgive you, since you are barely out of diapers. At the time that The Band came out with their first album, Music from Big Pink, there was simply nothing else like it.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        This is very true. From a musical standpoint, 1967-71 was a glorious time to be an undergrad.

        • GBJames
          Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          It was. Except for the tear gas part.

          • Diane G.
            Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

            Hear, hear to all three of you. Ah, those were the days.

    • Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      If the fogies say it was innovative at the time, I’ll take yer word for it. :p

      I guess if what you are saying is innovative about “The Weight” are the lyrics, I can’t disagree with that. From a musical standpoint, it’s just not that interesting though… catchy, to be sure. Fun to sing the harmonies in the chorus. Lots of space to play around on the bass (my instrument). But it’s pretty straightforward harmonically.

      • Posted November 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        The other The Band songs I’ve learned are I guess pretty interesting from a musical point of view. And I don’t dispute they are all amazing musicians. I guess it’s just when you have something that influential, coming from a later perspective, it doesn’t seem original — but that of course being because it sounds like everything it influenced that came after it, right? 🙂

    • GBJames
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      As IA reminds us in a post down below… Rock had wandered into a dead end of psychodelic feedback and endless jams. The Band came along and reset the music world.

  12. Strider
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I find The Who’s performance of “A Quick One While He’s Away” in “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus” really exciting. While it’s really not one of their best songs their performance (esp. Keith Moon who is so *completely* invested in his performance) is transcendent. It’s really something to see:

    “The Blues Brothers” is basically a concert movie strung together with a thin plot and so I think Ray Charles’ performance of “Shake a Tail Feather” is also a classic.

    • Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      The Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus was first released in 1996 ~ 28 years after it was recorded. The reason for the delay? The Who, who were fresh off a concert tour, upstaged the Stones on their own production. God bless ’em.

      • Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        I’ve always liked the Stones, but they’ve released a few stinkburgers in their day, and their performance on “Rock And Roll Circus” has to be one of their worst!

  13. Occam
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    This is not going to be a very original contribution, more a testimony.
    The Waltz, Stop Making Sense and Woodstock are the only concert movies I think I ever saw at the cinema (all others on video or TV). Good as The Waltz is, I think Jonathan Demme’s work on Stop Making Sense unequalled to this day.
    Musically, my favourite album of all time is Paul Simon’s Graceland, so the concert video from his African tour is very special to me.

    Joni Mitchell figures prominently in here, so I’d like to include a music movie which, though not a concert, is a concept album turned film: Arthur Penn and Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Towards the end, there’s a rendition (by Tigger Outlaw, I think) of Joni Mitchell’s Songs to Aging Children. I was smitten with Joni Mitchell from that moment on, her music has been with me all my adult life.

    Finally, two impossible concert film dreams, which I’d produce if only I had the Wall Street bonus kind of money:
    1. Last week, I saw and heard Marianne Faithfull live in Kurt Weill/Bert Brecht’s Seven Deadly Sins, 12 years after she recorded it on CD. Well, forget about Mick and Keith: the lady’s the real thing. So: a sharp and cutting Weill songfest with Marianne Faithfull.
    2. An evening with Leonard Cohen, properly filmed. There are all sorts of Cohen films and videos, including his recent European Tour, but nothing adequate.
    I have a couple of directors in mind, but who would you see doing this?

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      Arthur Penn and Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant.

      Ah, fond memories of that one. Saw it in Ithaca, NY, in the early 70’s.

  14. salon_1928
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    The Last Waltz is a great concert film – surely one of the best. I bought it (again) right after it was released on Blu Ray and it looks and sounds great! I’ve seen a couple of comments mentioning that The Band were not great innovators, and I agree, it’s arguable. That said, they were highly respected amongst their musical peers. I think that’s the reason you see so many great performers at the show. My favourite all-time The Band songs: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Shape I’m In and Chest Fever (not on The Last Waltz unfortunately).

    • CJ
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Speaking of “Chest Fever”. There’s an amazing cover of that song by Ian Thornley, Bruce Cockburn and Garth Hudson on the “A Canadian Celebration of The Band” album. An improvement similar in scale to Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “All along the Watchtower” (IMO)

  15. Andrew
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Great thread! I would add Pink Floyd’s “Delicate Sound of Thunder” to any “Greatest Concert Video” list. Alas, a re-mastered DVD appears to be out of reach. Toss in Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads 2010” festival, Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” as honorable mentions! I agree though: Demme’s “Stop Making Sense” sets the standard for pop concert films. I am also a big fan of “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” as a music documentary/concert film, although I was not particularly fond of the Motown sound until I heard these versions of the songs. Joan Osborne and the Funk brothers rock!

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Oh, gawd, yes! Everyone, manage to see “Standing in the Shadows of Motown!”

  16. Eric Mattingly
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    When I saw Last Waltz, the Muddy Waters performance made my hair stand up. (I hope that’s the right movie, it’s been a few years).

    • Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      The Band & Muddy Waters: Mannish Boy (I’m A Man)

    • ChasCPeterson
      Posted November 11, 2011 at 4:33 am | Permalink

      From what I understand, we’re lucky to have that performance recorded. Scorcese wasn’t planning on using it, and most of the cameras–all but one–were changing or conserving film during the tune. If you notice, it’s the only performance in the film that’s one long camera shot…even though I guess that’s kind of a Scorcese trademark, in this case it was accidental!

  17. Sigmund
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I read an interview recently with Donal Gallagher, brother and manager of the late guitarist Rory Gallagher, who used to play in the band ‘Taste’, before forming his own group. In it he mentioned an interesting piece of rock history regarding a 1969 tour that included Rory as well as Eric Clapton.
    “Taste, Blind Faith, and a bevy of other acts travelled in a chartered Greyhound bus. There were 52 men on board, and one woman, Bonnie Bramlett, who performed with her husband as Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. At one point, Eric Clapton announced on the bus that they’d been offered slots at a festival in upstate New York. “And that was Woodstock,” says Donal. “I thought this would be fantastic. Eric wanted to go too. I told him, if you say we’re going, we’ll have to go. But he wanted to be fair, he asked for a show of hands.” They were voted down. “Instead, we drove 1,200 miles to a gig in Milwaukee.”

  18. Hempenstein
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Levon Helm’s biography of The Band, ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ is a good read, too.

  19. JBlilie
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    My Favorites (beyond those already mentioned):

    U2 – Rattle and Hum
    John Lennon – Imagine
    Michael Jackson – This Is It
    Bruce Cockburn – My Beat
    Led Zeppelin – Complete Videos
    the first Clapton Crossroads film

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      I remember a Thanksgiving holiday at my brother’s house a few years back in which he had Rattle and Hum playing continuously on the big-screen TV the entire weekend. Permanently cured me of any desire ever to see a U2 concert in person.

  20. Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Those were magnificent clips Jerry, thanks for sharing them. The Neil Young/Joni Mitchell clip was tremendously moving for some reason. I loved the ethereal silhouette footage of Joni letting her soul out, off in the distance in her mysterious off-stage box somewhere.

  21. GaryU
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I’ve still not seen The Last Waltz. And I am ashamed.

  22. GaryU
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I’ve always loved their music and felt that, although they were quite popular at the time, they didn’t get near the attention they deserved.

    I’m too young to know for sure, but I would attribute there lack of attention to the reputation they built while backing Bob Dylan. Dylan had no idea how to work with a backing band, and so their performances were more like practice sessions, and earned them lots of “boos”. That’s what I recall, anyway, from the interview with Robbie Robertson on “World Café”.

  23. Geoff
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Gimme Shelter, which touches on the infamous Stones concert at Altamont is a must-see rock movie.

  24. ChasCPeterson
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I love The Last Waltz and have listened to the music many more times than I’ve watched the (excellent, agreed) film. These days one can…obtain…both the complete soundboard of the concert as played (4CDs) and the official 4-CD box-set, which leaves out a few tunes from the concert but adds the studio stuff done for the movie (e.g. ‘The Weight’ with the Stapleses) and some rehearsal/soundcheck versions. All of it great, even freakin Neil Diamond.

    Best concert film not yet mentioned–maybe the best: The Grateful Dead Movie (1976). No, I am not kidding. It’s an incredible film qua film. Here’s the opening animation sequence:

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I was going to mention the Dead film myself. I must have seen that half a dozen times in its opening week, as each of my friends insisted, separately, “You have to come see this with me!”

  25. Hempenstein
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    And here’s Emmylou’s appearance with Evangeline, with all it’s Canadian significance. IIRC, she came late to the filming, and that was the last time they played together before the reunion. I’m not sure if the sense of finality at the end of the video is due to knowing the above or not.

    Otherwise, at the time, Long Black Veil was probably my favorite. It wasn’t till years later that I learned that it was originally a Lefty Frizzell song from 1959.

  26. Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    It’s a great movie, yes. In fact, it kept me going during the very hot summer when it opened:my AC was dead, Last Waltz was around the corner, and I spent hours in the theater.
    But I don’t think the Band was under-recognized. If anything, they were over worshiped.
    None of them was a great musician, although as a group they were entertaining and their songs were ingratiating, sure.
    The one major advantage they had: Robbie Robertson, who is utterly crush-worthy.

  27. Nicholas
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    While it is not exactly a Concert Movie in the strict sense, “Urgh! A Music War” is one of the best in terms of the Punk/New Wave scene. For complex contract reasons, it was never released on DVD, so it is hard to find as VHS copies become more rare (worn out due to play). I highly recommend it.

    Warner Bros. will now burn a DVD copy off a high-quality VHS for purchase on demand through their website.

    • Strider
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I *really* like Steel Pulse’s “Ku Klux Klan” on that album.

  28. IA
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    The Band were definite innovators–they spearheaded the entire “back to basics”, country-rock movement, making psychedelic rock look passe. The Beatles wouldn’t have made “Let It Be” if not for The Band. Eric Clapton quit Cream after hearing The Band.

    I agree with ChasCPeterson on the value of hearing the 4-CD complete recording of The Last Waltz concert–the songs that didn’t make it into the movie are killer, including terrific live versions of “Life is a Carnival” and “The Weight.”

    Jerry noted the amazing bass skills of the late Rick Danko. Those who want to try and play like him might be interested in the DVD “Rick Danko’s Electric Bass Techniques,” wherein the mastero gives a course on his craft. It can be found on amazon.

    • Mark S
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, I think the enormous egos in Cream, plus Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce’s legendary animosity towards each other might have had something to do with it too.

  29. TomZ
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    From my generation… 1991, the Year Punk Broke.
    A collection of concert performances of a 2 week European tour in August of ’91 headlined by Sonic Youth. Intro acts included the Ramones, Dinosaur Jr, and a small trio from Seattle that was about to have their first major label release, a band building up a lot of hype… Nirvana. Great behind the scenes shots, fantastically raw and energetic performances, good mix of punk/grunge bands. Lots of Sonic Youth and Nirvana… which makes it my favorite.

    • salon_1928
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      …and finally JUST released on DVD about a month ago – I mean, it’s only 20 years old! I can’t believe it’s been that long…

      Yup, good honerable mention. It’s a great snapshot of punk on the cusp of something. I’ve always loved the title – it can be interpreted either way and neither is incorrect. I’m a big SY and Dinosaur JR fan and this film was pretty much all I had until the Youtube era.

  30. bhoytony
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    One of my all time favourite songs ever is Makes No difference from Northern Lights – Southern Cross, absolutely wonderful. It’s a pity the version on The Last Waltz is edited and misses a chunk out.
    Here’s a decent version, but without Robertson, not surprising as the other members and particularly Levon Helm couldn’t stand him.

  31. Mark S
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    So many to choose from, here goes…..

    1. Ladies and Gentlemen – The Rolling Stones – Finally remastered and re-released last year, this captures the Stones during their 1972 tour of the US. Anyone who seriously doubts Mick Taylor’s contribution to the band needs to watch this, as he puts in a blues/rock guitar masterclass. Only difficulty is picking which one of his incredible solos are the best.

    2. The Who – Live at Kilburn. This came out a couple of years ago, and is memorable not for the Kilburn 1977 show (last ever concert with Keith Moon), but the jawdropping second disc from the London Coliseum in December 1969. It’s basically Live at Leeds on video. The last 20 minutes are out of this world.

    3. Derek Trucks Band – Songlines. Great gig, wonderful playing, just great music.

    4. Led Zeppelin – Great collection of live footage, mostly far superior to the Song Remains the Same movie. Particularly the early Albert Hall footage from 1970, so wonderfully powerful and raw.

    5. The Who – the Kids are Alright – Wonderfully chaotic collection of stuff, but some hair raising clips. Particular favourite is “Roadrunner” from the Pontiac Silverdome in 1975 – I swear you can see the soundwaves coming off the stage.

    • Posted November 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Agree with everything you’ve posted ~ all five points!

      Here’s a live, relatively controlled & short version of Dazed and Confused from ’69. This is what happens when four deranged British geniuses interpret the Blues via industrial metal

  32. IA
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Most of the concert movies mentioned here involve white rock groups, but the thread wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a somewhat recent DVD release: “Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway 1967”

    It features the company’s hitmakers in a vintage revue show, starting with Booker T & the MGs, the Mar-Keys, Eddie Floyd (“Knock on Wood”), Arthur Conley (“Sweet Soul Music”), and reaches its pinnacle with Sam and Dave and Otis Redding, who practically burns the theater down.

    The footage of Redding is more complete than the more famous Monterey Pop Festival film and an even better performance–no mean feat, considering that Otis was always incredible onstage. The finale of “Try a Little Tenderness” should explain why Janis Joplin said Otis Redding was God.

  33. paul01
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I agree on Shadows and Light. A virtuoso performance, more jazz than folk. There was some video that was meant to make it more artistic and interesting, but she didn’t need it. She could have stayed bare bones.

    I’ll put a word in for Mad Dogs and Englishmen (Joe Cocker). A little dippy at times but a lot of good stuff. Clearly shows the role of Leon Russell in the band. Noisy as hell if you see it in the theatre (of course you never will now, unless you belong to a film club}.

  34. Dermot C
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I think I’ve heard of every group mentioned above. But have you heard of Karen Dalton, whom Dylan mentions in the first chapter of his autobiography from his Greenwich village days?

    This woman was in my opinion THE great undiscovered American roots singer.

    Check out her version of ‘It hurts me too’ at the link below.

    To read an analysis of her: “KAREN DALTON – THE GENIUS OF FEELING”, by my brother, read,

    Hope you enjoy both, and spread the word.

    • nick bobick
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Why? Why not spread the word on the real roots singers who didn’t get the recognition when they were alive, and too little since?

      She has an interesting voice, but I’d much rather listen to Tampa Red’s original of “It hurts me too”, or the excellent version by Elmore James.

      • Dermot C
        Posted November 11, 2011 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        It is barely possible to be more “real roots” than Karen Dalton: she was half American native (Cherokee, I think) and half Irish and from nowheresville in the mid-west.
        She never made a penny, advised a budding singer, “If you want to be heard, sing quieter.” The arc of her life-story is as painful as that of Blind Lemon Jefferson or Bessie Smith.

        • Dermot C
          Posted November 11, 2011 at 3:24 am | Permalink

          By the way, I meant to ad that we should spread the word about ALL the blues and roots undiscovered.

  35. Diane G.
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Was lucky enough to first see Last Waltz in a theater, albeit just a decade or so ago at a local university film club showing.

    Have since watched or listened to it many many times. I almost hate to read threads like this cuz I don’t want to hear negativity about things that mean a lot to me…

  36. David S.
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    As a film, the Last Waltz is indeed a beautiful piece of work.

    As an accurate representation of a ‘live’ performance, not so much.

    Much of Robbie’s guitar work and all of Rick’s bass work were overdubbed afterwards. The former because he wasn’t satisfied with his performance, the latter because his bass was out of tune. I’ve read an interview by the Band’s engineer/producer – John Simon – who said that virtually everybody went back afterwards to redo their parts except for Levon, the drummer. Then again, that maybe an overstatement.

    Nevertheless, The Last Waltz still is a great piece of musicianship. The Band ranks only second to the Beatles as my all-time favorite group.

    Lest I end this post on a bum note, here are some other worthwhile concert/performance films:

    1. Wilco – Ashes of American Flag (my favorite ‘new’ band)

    2. Freddie King – Freddie King: The!!!!Beat 1966 (The Beat!!!! was a great tv show out of Nashville during the 60’s. They have an entire series of dvd’s featuring a lot of legendary (and obscure) blues and r&b artists…well worth checking out)

    3. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (Bowie at his intergalactic finest)

    4. Louie Bluie – not, strictly speaking, a concert film. It is, however, an excellent documentary on this obscure – and wildly eccentric – blues/ragtime musician named Howard William Taft Armstrong (aka Louie Bluie).

  37. sasqwatch
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink


    Please find time to check out Tom Waits: Big Time

    Apparently the DVD is hard to find.

  38. ChasCPeterson
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    Shit, I totally forgot Don’t Look Back.

    And has anybody mentioned that Scorcese and Robbie Robertson shared a house for a while? Maybe while editing the movie.

  39. Posted November 11, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Definitely the best rock concert movie ever made, though I admit I’ve probably seen five rock concert movies in total.

    The album (sound track as it were) from the movie is probably the best compilation of The Band songs as well, given the excellence of the performances. It is probably the case that a week does not go by when I don’t hear one or more songs from that CD set given their placement on my various playlists etc.

  40. Jeff Sherry
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    The last Waltz may be one of the best rockumentaries. I would also add No Direction Home as another great.

  41. Rufus
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    For those in Chicago (or who will be on Nov. 30th), there is going to be a screening of The Last Waltz at the Music Box theater. Details, tix here:

    I have already bought my tickets, and the event is an NPR event, so…..

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