It’s Thanksgiving Day in the States, and that means it’s the anniversary of The Last Waltz concert, which became one of the greatest concert films of all time. Today, to celebrate that occasion, I have decided to list some of my personal favorite concert films, and rockumentaries. I know I left out a few, but I want to encourage you to share your opinions in the comments section!
THE LAST WALTZ – THE BAND
Filmed on (American) Thanksgiving day in 1976, The Last Waltz is one of the most iconic concert films of all time. The Last Waltz was directed by Martin Scorcese, and featured performances by The Band, with guests including Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, The Staple Singers, and Eric Clapton. The film is a celebration of one of the greatest and most influential bands of its time, including many great songs, like “It Makes No Difference”, “Up on Cripple Creek”, and “The Weight”. Many of the recordings from this concert became the definitive versions of these songs.
Here is “It Makes No Difference”:
STOP MAKING SENSE – TALKING HEADS
Released in 1984, Stop Making Sense is a look into the mind of David Byrne. Starting out With Byrne singing “Psycho Killer” to a pre-programmed drum track on an empty stage, and adding musicians one at a time until the stage is full of them. This is stage show at its finest, with projected visuals, and choreographed moments, and a lot of energy with some incredibly talented musicians. At one point, Byrne wears a big suit, which became a recognizable icon of the film.
Check out the original trailer for Stop Making Sense:
OKONOKOS – MY MORNING JACKET
Okonokos may be my favorite concert film, it is a great document of a band that is one of the best live acts in music today. Featuring songs like “Dondante” and “Steam Engine”, Okonokos brought the energy and epicness of a My Morning Jacket show into living rooms. And just last month, Okonokos became available on iTunes!
Check out the trailer featuring the great track “One Big Holiday”!
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT – THE WHO
The Kids Are Alright is a documentary about one of the most influential bands of all time, The Who. It goes on a journey with The Who as they rose from playing small clubs in London to playing “See Me, Feel Me” at Woodstock as the sun set, and the recording of “Who Are You”, the last release before the passing of drummer Keith Moon. It’s obvious The Who don’t take themselves too seriously throughout this film, and that makes this one of the more entertaining films on the list even if you are not a fan of the band.
Here’s a clip of The Who playing “Sparks” at Woodstock from The Kids Are Alright
ASHES OF AMERICAN FLAGS – WILCO
Like My Morning Jacket, Wilco have created a reputation for putting on some incredible live shows. Ashes of American Flags follows Wilco on part of their 2008 tour as they play some of the live staples that propelled them to become live show legends. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is another excellent documentary about Wilco, and focuses on the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and turmoil between band members Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett.
Here is the Trailer for Ashes of American Flags:
LIVE AT POMPEII – PINK FLOYD
An epic performance by psychedelic rock legends Pink Floyd from 1971 set in an ancient ampithertre in Pompeii to no audience. This features one of the most incredible performances in rock and roll history, sandwiched in the middle of Echoes. Some versions have added studio versions of songs from Dark Side of The Moon.
Here is the first part of “Echoes”
TELL ME WHAT ROCKERS TO SWALLOW – YEAH YEAH YEAHS
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of the most energetic bands in the world today, and frontwoman Karen O is one of the most exciting front-persons in the world. Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow, sometimes referred to as Live At the Fillmore, shows off the energy a live Yeah Yeah Yeahs show had at their peak.
Here’s the opener from the DVD, Y-Control
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS – THE NATIONAL
This documentary is yet to be released on DVD but has been screened around the world. It was filmed by lead singer Matt Berninger’s brother Tom, and follows The National on tour for a year. It is not only a documentary on one of the most successful indie rock bands in the world, but it also focuses on the relationship between Matt and Tom. Check out the trailer, and keep your eyes open for an eventual DVD or Blu-Ray release.
THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME – LED ZEPPELIN
Filmed during three nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City, The Song Remains the Same is an incredible look at one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Featuring live performances of some of the most iconic songs in Zeppelin’s catalog. It is not without its faults, unlike The aforementioned The Kids Are Alright, The Song Remains The Same comes across as a little too self indulgent. It is, however a great document of a band many consider to be the greatest of all time.
THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS
The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus was an all-star studded concert put together by The Rolling Stones. The concert featured The Who, The Stones, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and others. It was originally intended to be aired on television, but rumor has it The Who upstaged The Rolling Stones, and The Stones did not want to release it. Thankfully it was released in 1996, and features some great performances from some of the most recognizable faces in music.
Now, I know I definitely left out a few great ones, What’s missing!? Leave some comments below!
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