Pop­corn mo­ments:

the great con­cert movies

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

The con­cert movie is a genre un­like any other. Many peo­ple who hate Adam San­dler ad­mit a tol­er­ance for his per­for­mance in Punch Drunk Love. Even the most com­mit­ted en­emy of Jerry Lewis must recog­nise his bril­liance in The King of Com­edy. Hell, you don’t re­ally need to like Dylan to en­joy the chatty No Di­rec­tion Home. But the ded­i­cated con­cert film is aimed solely at fans of the artistes on stage. So, with apolo­gies to Band-ophobes and Bowie haters, here is the de­fin­i­tive list.

Jazz on a Sum­mer’s Day (1960)

Mon­terey Pop (1968) Stop Mak­ing Sense (1984) Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006) Ziggy Star­dust and the Spi­ders from Mars (1973)

DA Pen­nebaker’s ram­bling doc­u­men­tary suf­fers, like the sim­i­lar Wood­stock, from a sur­feit of Coun­try Joe & the Fish. It is, how­ever, by far the greater movie. Otis Red­ding is par­tic­u­larly in­can­des­cent. It’s Pen­nebaker again. The great man records all the highs and lows (oh, Lord, that mime se­quence!) of David Bowie’s leg­endary last con­cert in 1973. Boy, could he play gui­tar (he be­ing Mick Ron­son).

The Last Waltz (1978)

Wood­stock (1970)

It’s Jonathan Demme again. The di­rec­tor’s touch­ing record of a Neil Young con­cert some­how re­ceived less at­ten­tion in 2006 than Lian Lun­son’s pro­foundly or­di­nary Leonard Co­hen: I’m Your Man. Re­dress the bal­ance. Buy Heart of Gold on DVD. Al­legedly an in­spi­ra­tion for This is Spinal Tap, Martin Scors­ese’s obit­u­ary for The Band some­how made the likes of Joni Mitchell and Van Mor­ri­son ap­pear in­ter­est­ing to the punk gen­er­a­tion. A beau­ti­fully com­posed record of the 1958 New­port Jazz Fes­ti­val by Bert Stern, a pho­tog­ra­pher of note, fea­tur­ing fine per­for­mances from the likes of Th­elo­nious Monk, Ge­orge Shear­ing and Di­nah Wash­ing­ton. So, there were too many woolly-minded hip­pie acts. So, there wasn’t enough of The Who. Never mind. This re­mains the de­fin­i­tive record of the last mo­ments of a great col­lec­tive delu­sion.

How I Wrote Elas­tic Man: A Film about The Fall (1979) Sign ‘o’ the Times (1987)

Buena Vista So­cial Club (1999) Yes, yes, yes. I re­call how nau­se­at­ing it was that Ry Cooder’s Cuban pals be­came the un­avoid­able sound­track to mid­dle-class din­ner par­ties ev­ery­where. Don’t blame Ibrahim Fer­rer or Com­pay Se­gundo for the di­gestibil­ity of their mu­sic. Though there are some fine doc­u­men­taries on the punk scene in New York, no no­table fea­ture-length records of the events in CBGB and The Mudd Club re­main. Jonathan Demme’s fine study of late Talk­ing Heads will, how­ever, do well enough. It played in Dublin for cen­turies. This doesn’t ex­ist, but we can dream. Sadly, there be­ing so lit­tle money around at the time, there were no fea­tures de­tail­ing con­certs by Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Di­vi­sion, Wire, PIL or The Pop Group ei­ther. Mind you, The Fall are still around. So, you never know. Be­fore Prince de­gen­er­ated into play­ing ho­moge­nous sludge-funk, he man­aged to com­bine oomph with top-qual­ity tunes. This record of a con­cert from Rot­ter­dam catches the Pur­ple One at the height of his pow­ers.

Heart of Gold:

Jonathan Demme’s touch­ing record of a Neil Young con­cert is a


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