(NEWS10) – This week, let’s take a look back at a documentary, or concert depending on your preference, called ‘The Last Waltz‘. Released in 1978, ‘The Last Waltz’ is the final concert of the original lineup of the legendary group, The Band. Guitarist Robbie Robertson felt the concert should be documented and with the directing talents of Martin Scorsese, that idea became possible.
Popular artists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters (along with many others), performed with them at the show. Yes, this is a concert of a band from the 60s and 70s; but it is about much more than that.
‘The Last Waltz’ showcases the hardships of being on the road. In between songs you get little interviews with members of The Band telling stories of the road dealing with poverty, drugs, and other events from their career. Throughout The Band’s running time, the rhythm section (Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, and Levon Helm) had issues with drugs and alcohol.
That and growing tensions between drummer Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson is what led them to 1976 where the movie takes place. This movie is a cautionary tale about the life of a traveling musician. Robbie’s quote “It’s a d*** impossible way of life” really sums up what Martin Scorsese is trying to tell the audience.
This is not a perfect movie though. Some fans of The Band have issues with it. Guitarist and producer of the movie Robbie Robertson takes up most of the screen time during the concert portions of the movie, and the majority of the interviews are done by him. Pianist Richard Manuel and Organist Garth Hudson really don’t get much screen time.
That part of the movie aside, ‘The Last Waltz’ is a celebration of the music by The Band and that generation of musicians. The movie starts with text saying “This film should be played loud”. The audio is purposely lower in the interviews than the audio of the concert which lets you know that the music is what you’re here for.
With the 80’s bringing in a whole new sound to the world, a lot of these musicians and music started to fade away from the public eye. ‘The Last Waltz’ acts like a time capsule for this time in music. The Band would get back together in 1983, but without Robbie Robertson.
As of September 22, 2020, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson are the only surviving members left of The Band. ‘The Last Waltz’ captures The Band as they were and for that fans are forever grateful. You can watch “The Last Waltz” on amazon prime, DVD, and Blu Ray.