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The Last Waltz [1978] - 3.97

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):

Rating: 3:
Competent backing group : I usually rent DVDs, but in this case I bought a new copy for about 4.00 GBP delivered.

I had anticipated that this would contain some exciting performances that I would want to rewatch.
I was wrong.

Although I am old enough to have been around when The Band emerged as "Dylan's backing group" that had their own success with singles such as "The Weight" and thier first two LPs "Music from the Big Pink" and "The Band", I never bought any of their records at the time (or indeed later). I did not dislike them, but they never seemed exciting enough for me to spend money on. So watching this DVD gave me a chance to re-assess The Band.

They are (were?) obviously competent musicians and wrote some good songs. But for me there was not that tingle factor that some groups or songs or perfomances generate. Probably they were exciting for the audiences at thier performances, but this film did not seem to capture that.

Possibly one of the flaws with the whole production of The Last Waltz is the string of well known friends that appear, most of which (Dylan being the exception) does one signature performance then leaves the stage. The reason this is a 'flaw' is the impression given that The Band is one of the best backing groups ever, but not one of the best groups ever. The best performances are those of guests. Unfortunately none of the guests get much time - there are just too many of them. Maybe they should have had just Dylan and a couple of other guests.

In my opinion the Eric Clapton number showed what a master guitarist Clapton is, and Robertson struggles to keep up with his answers to the master. Muddy Waters only does vocals in his number and the song chosen ("Mannish Man') is not one of his best, but he has great stage presence, so he is in front and others are backing. When Dylan takes the stage he seems to be totally in control: you can see The Band watching him carefully to see what he might do next, though one assumes they rehearsed. If Dylan and The Band were a group, then you would expect them to play together instinctively, but it comes across the Dylan is the performer and they are accompanying (good at it, one must admit).

None of the performances are outstanding. The Band present their own numbers well, but without that extra something. The guests haven't time to build up that 'all time great performance' feeling, with the possible exception of Dylan who seems to bring an aura to the stage.

So overall it was OK to watch, but I don't think I'll be watching it again. The DVD did not make me appreciate The Band any more than I did before watching it, but on the other hand I now know better what they used to do and did not dislike it.

As a rock documentary it seemed well-made, but (at least for me) it did not capture any great excitement, so if this level of excitement was there, it failed. If the excitement was not there, the film was honest. Like The Band as musicians, the film is competent.

Rating: 5:
The Band- The Final Fling : "Just think of the rich visual eloquence with which Mr. Scorsese was able to invest a simple Checker cab in "Taxi Driver," and just notice that all he supplies here are a waltzing couple behind the credits and some smoke clouds. Given that, you can't help realizing that for all its impressive musical accomplishments, "The Last Waltz" is a great lost opportunity. There is a dazzling array of talent on display here, and the film surely has its memorable moments. But it articulates so little of the end-of-an-era feeling it hints at--and some of Mr. Scorsese's accomplishments have been so stunning--that it's impossible to view "The Last Waltz" as anything but an also-ran." Janet Maslin, The NYT

'The Band', Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson ,Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson; all stars of 'The Last Waltz'. This was a concert by the rock band, sometimes known as rockabilly. A term they did not agree with. The concert was held on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. This was known as a "farewell" concert after 20 some odd years of touring. The Band was joined by more than a dozen special guests, including Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ronnie Hawkins Pine Top Perkins, Ringo Starr, Dr John, Muddy Waters, Emmylou Harris, and Neil Young. The concert was filmed by director Martin Scorsese and made into a documentary, released in 1978. The film features concert performances, scenes shot on a studio soundstage and interviews by Scorsese with members of The Band. The Last Waltz is hailed as one of the greatest concert films ever made. However, it has been criticized by Band drummer Levon Helm, who disagreed with guitarist Robbie Robertson's decision to discontinue touring. He has said the film concentrates too much on Robertson and not enough on other members of The Band. I have just finished reading Levon Helm's memoir, and I have such mixed emotions about this DVD. It has their marvelous music, the music of their guests, but it is missing the feeling of loss, the emotions of a group disbanding.

The concert was organized by promoter, Bill Graham, who had a long association with The Band. Starting at 5:00 p.m., the audience of 5,000 was served turkey dinners. There was ballroom dancing with music by the Berkeley Promenade Orchestra. Poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure gave readings. These readings are shown without rhyme nor reason throughout the film. The Band started its concert at around 9:00 p.m. and history began. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell were then invited back out to help The Band perform "Acadian Driftwood", a song to the Acadians of Canadian history. 'The Band' then performed a short set of some more of its songs before Bob Dylan came on stage to lead his former backing band through four songs, only two of which were in the film. The Band and all its guests, with the addition of Ringo Starr on drums and Ron Wood on guitar, then sang "I Shall Be Released" as their last song. The Band then came out at around 2:15 a.m. to perform an encore, "Don't Do It". It was the last time the group performed with its original members.

I loved this film, my best friend and I have listened to their music, discussed Levon Helm's memoir and viewed this video several times. I love 'The Band', but this was not the film all of the members wanted for their memories. It is glorious at times. The interviews are interesting, but not particularly illuminating. This DVD gives us more filming not shown in the original set. But the audience, the feast, the comings and goings back stage are not represented. A great film, yes, but not a film that captures 'The Band;' as they wanted to be remembered. Highly Recommended. prisrob 3-25-07

The Last Waltz CD

Rating: 5:
Why 'The Band'? : A question asked by my 14 year old daughter before settling down with her to watch what I promised would be the best music film she would ever watch. "What a naff name too" she added, "There are lots of Bands around".
After watching for the full 2 hours she said, "They're not just The Band - they are THE BAND!"

I first watched The Last Waltz on TV when I was about 14 too. None of the brilliance, excellence and sheer spine tingling musicianship has been lost during the intervening years. If anything this film was better than I remembered. The galaxy of megastar guest appearances go someway to illustrate the high esteem in which The Band were regarded by their peers. Clapton et al are clearly enjoying their jam sessions with Robbie and the boys, and their performances are second to none. As for Van the Man? Well we loved his purple suit, though his high kicks came as a bit of a shock! It's great to see musicians delighting in their craft (albeit chemically aided!), rather than the miserable bunch we have today.

Why 'The Band'? Simply because they were.

Rating: 5:
Still crazy after all these years : I remembered going to see "The last waltz" as a kid and it was from this that I became a huge fan of Neil young. So off I plodded to grab the ultimate folky get together. Well wonderful is a title I would give this DVD without any doubt whatsoever.

The revamp of the original film has given the DVD a very classy feel, the soundtrack is superb and the digital remastering gives you the impression this was a film made yesterday. It was good to see such a line up of great stars, and the final track of a superb line up sing "I shall be released" makes you just wish that we cold turn music back 20 or 30 years to the days when a musician was a master of his craft.

The fact that the original film was made by a master film maker in Martin Scorsese will always feed you with the knowledge that this is not just something rushed together but something given the effort and the time to be something of pure artistry. This is without doubt a masterpiece of film making and together with some of the greatest acts of the 20th century this is the one concert DVD you should own.

Rating: 5:
The ultimate music DVD : I watched this concert first time just for Neil Diamond,having never heard of The Band.It soon became apparent to me that this concert was very special.The Band themselves are superb and so is their music.Every song is obviously performed from the heart and with passion,as are the performances of the guests,who include Van Morrison,Dr John,Neil Young,Eric Clapton,Neil Diamond,Bob Dylan,Joni Mitchell to name but a few.The DVD itself is top quality.Picture and sound are top notch and the booklet makes for very interesting reading as it covers all aspects of how the concert came about.Favourite song 'It Makes No Difference'.

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