Thursday, November 27, 2014


Well, it's Thanksgiving, and as a Thanksgiving treat I'm going to review deleted footage from the famous concert that took place on Thanksgiving...

While I was on "YouTube" looking up "The Last Waltz", I found the whole entire concert by accident, and I figured after coming across such a rare find, I'm deciding to review the performances that didn't make it into the film. So join me, as I review the deleted performances from "The Last Waltz".


Before I talk about the performances, let me just tell you what the videos are like, because this is very important. Instead of the videos having fancy edits, and color, like the actual film itself; it's in black and white, and is all shot in an audience’s perspective. So if you except to see the beautiful lighting; and seeing the performers up close; you're not going to get that all. Another thing I should mention is the film itself was dubbed on a few occasions, to make it sound better. While it worked fine in the film, the concert without the dubbing sounds just as great. Yeah, it can sound out of tune and out of key at a few points, but it still sounds just as rockin as the film itself. You also even get to see the performances that were included in the film in their entirety, as well as hearing them tune up. So despite not having color; edits; as well as excluding the interviews and the Sound Stage segments; it still captures the concert just as well as the film itself, even though I really do miss the elements that are excluded.


The songs that "The Band" performed that were omitted from the film completely are "Life Is A Carnival", "This Wheel's On Fire", "W.S. Walcott Medicine Show", "Georgia, On My Mind", "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)", "Rag Mamma Rag", and "Chest Fever", and they all sound great! Robbie has some killer Guitar solos; Levon and Rick sing out their hearts and rock the house; the horns sound fantastic; but my real attention and awe went to Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel, who had very little screen-time when they performed at the concert in the actual film. Much like in the film when we see Garth Hudson, we mostly see his face, instead of seeing his hands on the keys; but not only does the stuff he plays sound great, but we do see him play the Saxaphone for another song, and see him play a regular Piano, instead of using electric equipment; and while the film does expose how great of an artist he is, this footage shows it a lot more. Richard Manuel definitely shines more in the concert footage, than he does in the film. We actually see and hear him sing and play Piano, when in the film, they got one performance of him singing (Not counting his Off-Screen solo in the film's finale song). His singing is not only great, but I really, really wish that Scorsese could at least fit another performance of him singing in the film.

In the film, we saw "The Band" perform, "The Weight"; "Evangeline"; and "The Last Waltz Theme" on the sound stage, and while I do prefer the sound stage versions of these classic songs, the concert footage is just as great. Sure you don't have the Staple Singers or Emmylou Harris singing with them, but "The Band" does a great job playing the songs on their own. I did enjoy their live performance "The Weight", but my favorite has to be the "Evangeline" number. The reason why is because, they're experimenting with the song that they haven't even rehearsed before, by turning this country tune into a waltz tune, and pair it up with their song "The Last Waltz". Yeah, they do mess up once or twice (especially when considering the fact that they were also reading cue cards as they performed), but not only does it still sound good, but I give them credit for experimenting it in their last concert, which I think is what makes it so special.


You may remember Dr.John appearing in the film playing Piano and singing "Such A Night", but after his performance, he joins "The Band" to play guitar, as they invite Bobby Charles to the stage to sing "Down South In New Orleans". The songs catchy; "The Band" do a great job at performing this song; it's great seeing Richard on the drums more (Which we saw him play the drums in the film on two occasions) and Garth playing the accordion; and it's nice to see Dr.John play the guitar. However, I can understand why this performance and appearance was cut from the film. You can barley hear Bobby Charles sing, and when he sings a solo together with Dr.John, it doesn't really sound as good, as "The Band" singing it.


You've seen Paul Butterflied and Muddy Waters blues up the theater in the film with "Mystery Train" and "Mannish Boy", but in between those two performances, Waters and Butterflied performed the song "Caldonia" with Pinetop Perkins, who also didn't appear in the film. I guess the reason why this wasn't included into movie, wasn't just for time, but also that Perkins mic keeps going on and off. With that said, it's still another good performance. Butterfield shines more in this number with his Harmonica playing, than he did in "Mystery Train" (Which is still an excellent performance); Muddy Waters really sells out this song with his Bluesy voice; "The Band" do an awesome job backing them up; and the vocals we do hear from Perkins is really great as well. Much like the last performance, its understandable why it was cut from the film, but it's still a great blues rendition to this classic song.


Everyone who's seen the film, remembers Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson playing "Further Up On The Road" together, which Clapton's guitar strap falls off during a solo. Before that famous and rockin performance, Clapton started off his appearance by singing "All Our Past Times" with Rick Danko, and man is it beautiful. The singing from both Clapton and Rick; the guitar solos from both Clapton and Robertson; the music that Hudson provides, it's all really beautiful. I really wish that this performance made it into the film.


You remember a stoned Neil Young singing "Helpless" on the stage with an off-stage Joni Mitchell in the film. You also probably remember Joni Mitchell singing "Coyote" in the film as well. Well these two performers actually perform in the concert, not just separate, but also together on a few occasions. The solo performances from them are nice. Young sings "Four Strong Winds"; while Mitchell sings "Shadow And Light". However, the footage that I really enjoyed of them that was not included in the movie is when they perform together. They just look cute, when they are together. Joni Mitchell takes the spotlight when she sings "Fury Sings The Blues", as Neil Young plays a little harmonica; and they join "The Band" later on to sing "Acadian Driftwood", which is another fantastic performance! I really do wish one of the last two performances made it into the film.


Another highlight performance that everyone remembers from the film is when Van Morrison brought the house down with "Caravan"; before that number, he did a duet with Richard as they both sang "Tura Lura Lural (That's An Irish Lullaby)". Man did the film really cut out many of Richard's performances! The vocals from Richard are beautiful and nearly sound like he's Ray Charles; but when Morrison starts singing, he begins to own it, even if we don't understand him at times. It's a pity that this didn't make it into the film either.


"The Band" takes an Intermission, and Emmett Grogan, Hell's Angels Sweet William, Lenore Kandel, Michael McClure, Diane DiPrima, Robert Duncan, Freewheelin Frank Reynolds, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti take the stage to read poetry. While I found it pointless to put the poetry segments in the film, the poems do fit the Intermission for the concert, by making you feel relaxed and take a breather from all the excitement as you hear some poetry. It's my least favorite part of the concert, but it does make for a good Intermission.


I mentioned in my review that Scorsese was only allowed to film two performances of Bob Dylan (Not counting the "I Shall Be Released" finale), and all I'm going to say is, I'm really, really glad to see the whole medley that Dylan sings. The songs that were cut are "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" (Which he plays again to close the Medley), "Hazel", and "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)" and Bob Dylan performs these songs at his finest.


I already talked about most of the Jam Session in my review, so I won't talk too much about it. Let's just say, that the two Jam Sessions that take place are both fun and rockin, with all these artists playing together and having fun.

While this rare footage does capture the concert better than the actual film, I still miss the cinematic look that the film carried, along with the Interviews, and Soundstage segments. In all honesty, I don't think this or the actual film captured the concert all that authentically. Don't get me wrong, they both do a fine job bringing the spirit of the concert, which is the main priority for any concert film, but the film obsesses over Robertson and cuts a lot of good performances; while the footage here, doesn't capture that cinematic look. I know I should look at this footage as it's own thing, but I can't help but make the comparisons. Overall, whether you prefer a cinematic take, or a rare old and gritty take on this fantastic concert, you'll be satisfied with either version. Personally, despite the issues I have with both versions, I not only think it's an awesome concert, but it's like Top 3 on my favorite concerts of all time!



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