Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Last Waltz 

I had the pleasure of seeing this film last week - Scorsese's documentary (of sorts) of The Band's last ever concert. I didn't think it was a particularly good film, unlike most people - the came work seemed unprofessional, and the interview clips are dull and druggy (though that's probably intentional) - but it was very enjoyable nevertheless, if only for the concert sections. It must have been an amazing show to attend, with increasingly great rock stars entering stage left every new number - including (in no particular order) Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Dr. John and Bob Dylan. I could have done without Eric Clapton and Neil Diamond, but each to their own tastes and all that...

The interweaving of interview and songs reminded me of Down From The Mountain, and there are other parallels too. Both films feature (I think) some of the best American music of their times, with some amazing duets and group numbers from people I've been used to seeing on their own. The fact that Emmylou Harris is in both films is no small testament to her own greatness, often overlooked (by me, anyway, because as more of an alt.country fan I've only ever thought of her as a backing vocalist until quite recently).

The film drags a little, as most music films do, but the experience is still great - in some ways just like being in the front row of a gig - you always end up forgetting all the people behind you, even though you can hear them, and end up feeling like the music is being shared with you alone. I guess I've always been a selfish gig-goer, though, so that might not be everyone's experience. Good film, nevertheless, and worth seeing if you like that sort of thing. Particularly good discoveries for me were 'Up On Cripple Creek' and 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down', neither of which I'd heard before. I went out to buy The Band's greatest hits the next day, and I recommend doing that to anyone else who doesn't know them already.

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