I’ve never been much of a concert-goer. Not counting the occasional bar band and the yearly Mississippi Valley Blues Fest, I can count on one hand the number of actual concerts I have attended.
But concert films are a completely different story, and three of my favorites are: “The Last Waltz,” “Stop Making Sense” and “Shine a Light.”
“The Last Waltz,” from 1978, was directed by Martin Scorsese and recounts the last public performance of The Band. This film is a celebration of The Band’s history as a back-up group for many of the great rock and blues performers of the day. Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan are among the guests who grace the stage with their music. This concert is a pure joy from beginning to end.
“Stop Making Sense,” from 1984, was directed by Jonathan Demme and documents three days of concerts by the Talking Heads. In a 2009 article, Time.com said, “Stop Making Sense” is “often cited as the finest concert movie of them all.” I wholeheartedly agree. From start to finish, this concert is filled with energy and great music. If it doesn’t make you want to jump up and dance in your living room, you may need an espresso.
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“Shine a Light,” from 2008, was also directed by Scorsese. Intermixed with recent concert footage are archival interviews with the Rolling Stones dating to the ‘60s. The concert portions of the film show the band in top form. Once you get past the “wrinkle fest” and just listen to the music, you are reminded why you love rock ‘n’ roll in the first place.
Now, if I can only find time to watch “Yes: Live at Montreux,” my week will be complete.
— From Joe Kelley, newsroom artist