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The Relix 40: Classic Concert Films

Dean Budnick | November 23, 2017

Back in 2013, to mark the 40th year of Relix, we ran a series of Relix 40 lists that cover a variety of topics. (You can click here to view the complete collection).

One of our Relix 40 lists included our favorite concert films (as opposed to general rock documentaries such as I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Bittersweet Motel or Some Kind of Monster)  that focus on specific shows, tours or festivals.

Since we have The Last Waltz on our mind today, we've decided to revisit that list.

Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959)

One of the most unheralded music documentaries of all time, it’s a radiant, evocative look at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival with Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, Anita O’Day and other luminaries of the era.
The T.A.M.I. Show (1964)
James Brown is spectacular while The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye and Chuck Berry are among the many others showcased in this film that Congress voted to preserve in the National Film Registry.
Festival! (1967)
Filmed at the Newport Folk Festival from 1963- 65, it includes Bob Dylan’s infamous 1965 electric set as well as music from Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Donovan, Odetta and Peter, Paul &
Mary in their primes.
Dont Look Back (1967)
D. A. Pennebaker travels to the U.K. with Bob Dylan during his 1965 spring tour.
Elvis (1968)
Better known as the ‘68 Comeback Special, this marks Elvis Presley’s return to the live setting after seven years of focusing on Hollywood B-movies.
Monterey Pop (1968)
D. A. Pennebaker enlists fellow documentarians Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles to shoot this look at 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival. Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin are among the stand-out performers.
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Celebrated filmmakers Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin capture the final weeks of The Rolling Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour, which culminated in tragedy at the Altamont Free Concert.
Woodstock (1970)
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, Woodstock chronicles the defining musical event of a generation.
Mad Dogs & Englishmen (1971)
Joe Cocker and Leon Russell take to the road with their touring revue.
The Concert for Bangladesh (1972)
Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston and Leon Russell join hosts George Harrison and Ravi Shankar to raise proceeds for refugees of the Bangladesh Liberation War.Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1972)
Pink Floyd circa October 1971 perform at Italy’s 1,900-year-old amphitheater.
Sunshine Daydream (1972)
Still unreleased, although copies make the rounds (and are on YouTube), Sunshine Daydream documents the Grateful Dead with Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs and the Merry Pranksters in Veneta, Ore., on August 27, 1972.
Wattstax (1973)
Stax Records organized this concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Aug. 20, 1972 to mark the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Richard Pryor hosts, with music from Issac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, The Bar-Kays and Albert King.
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1973)
D.A. Pennebaker captures David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in July 1973.
The Song Remains the Same (1976)
The mighty Led Zeppelin peak in July 1973 at Madison Square Garden.
The Grateful Dead Movie (1977)
Directed by Jerry Garcia, this film showcases the Grateful Dead during their Wall of Sound era at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom in October 1974.
The Last Waltz (1978)
Martin Scorsese presents The Band’s swan song on Thanksgiving 1976.
Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
Neil Young appears both acoustic and full-on electric, with Crazy Horse and a crew dressed like Jawas, at San Francisco’s Cow Palace on October 22, 1978.
No Nukes (1980)
The first film appearance of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, from Madison Square Garden in 1979, also features James Taylor and Carly Simon, The Doobie Brothers and the leaders of Musicians United for Safe Energy: Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, John Hall and Bonnie Raitt.
Fela In Concert (1981)
Fela Anikulapo Kuti and his 20-plus piece band perform in Paris during the summer of 1981.Simon and Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park (1982)
More than 500,000 attend Simon & Garfunkel’s reunion concert on Sept. 19, 1981 in New York City’s Central Park.
Stop Making Sense (1984)
Jonathan Demme directs the Talking Heads on their 1983 Speaking in Tongues tour for what many still identify as the single greatest band concert film of all time.
U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky (1984)
This performance in the wind and rain at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on June 5, 1983 helped solidify the reputation of U2 and the venue itself.
Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll (1987)
Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Etta James are among the musical guests who help Chuck Berry celebrate his 60th birthday. Taylor Hackford ( Ray, Against All Odds,
An Officer and a Gentleman) directs.
Queen at Wembley (1990)
A year after their commanding performance at Live Aid, Queen returns to Wembley Stadium for two sold-out shows on July 11 and 12, 1986, shortly before Freddy Mercury’s retirement.
Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York (1993)
This revelatory set that originally aired in 1993 yielded a live album in 1994 and finally appeared on DVD in 2007.
Meeting People Is Easy (1998)
Less of a traditional concert film than an exploration of a band at wits’ end on tour, it’s a powerful account of Radiohead in the process of reinvention.
Live from Bonnaroo Music Festival (2002)
Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio, Ben Harper, The String Cheese Incident, Galactic and many others represent the charm (and occasional confusion) of Bonnaroo’s inaugural year.
Concert For George (2003)
Eric Clapton and Jeff Lynne serve as musical directors for this show at the Royal Albert Hall in London on the first anniversary of George Harrison’s death.
Festival Express (2003)
An engaging snapshot of the 1970 tour that saw the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and The Band travel by train across Canada.Fade To Black (2004)
A look at what was billed as Jay-Z’s final Last Waltz-style live performance at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 25, 2003 with Beyoncé, The Roots, Missy Elliott, Beanie Sigel, Mary J. Blige, Ghostface Killah and many others.
Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That! (2006)
The Beastie Boys hand camcorders to 50 fans before a sold-out Madison Square Garden show on Oct. 9, 2004.Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006)
The first of three concert films that Jonathan Demme would make with Neil Young, it focuses on the premiere of his Prairie Wind material at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Heima (2007)
It’s as much about Sigur Rós as the group’s home nation of Iceland.
Shine A Light (2008)
Martin Scorsese demonstrates why The Stones still matter via two fall 2006 shows at New York City’s Beacon Theatre with Buddy Guy and Jack White entering the fray.
U2 3D (2008)
Particularly gripping in IMAX, this film tracks U2 in Latin America during their 2006 Vertigo Tour.
The Clifford Ball (2009)
An epic look at Phish’s 1996 festival at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, including the group’s soundcheck and late-night mobile Flatbed Jam.
Under Great White Northern Lights (2009)
Emmett Malloy (who would later direct Big Easy Express) tracks The White Stripes across Canada on what would be their final tour.
Big Easy Express (2012)
This Grammy-award winning film finds Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show crossing the United States on the Railroad Revival Tour.
Shut Up and Play the Hits (2012)
James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem bid adieu to their fans at Madison Square Garden.