Sunday, March 18, 2007

Such A Night

On Saturday, March 17, 2007, I witnessed the greatest concert event of all time...well, at least of my lifetime. Just a week after seeing Bob Weir and Ratdog grace NYC's Beacon Theater, I was fortunate enough to attend yet another monumental live performance on that very stage -- this time, The Levon Helm Band. More than thirty years after The Last Waltz, Levon Helm took the audience on a rollercoaster of special guests, rock 'n roll standards and Band classics. Helm, who just ten years ago was relegated to mere whispers due to a bout with throat cancer, regained his familiar southern swagger and was in old form once again.

The band led by Levon on drums/mandolin and guitar icons Jimmy Vivino (The Max Weinberg 7) and Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Phil Lesh and Friends), barrelled through a trove of Band hits including: "Ophelia," "Tears of Rage," "Evangeline," "Rag Mama Rag," "The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show," "Up On Cripple Creek" and of course, "The Weight." A personal highlight for me was when Mac Rebennack b/k/a Dr. John, limped onto the stage and manned the keys for crowd favorite and Last Waltz standout, "Such a Night." Throughout the evening, other notable guests joined Levon on stage including Little Sammy Davis, The Alexis P. Suter Band, Allen Toussaint, and Warren Haynes -- who mightily led the band and the audience through the climactic "I Shall Be Released." But perhaps most memorable was when original "Band-mate" Garth Hudson timidly appeared, accordian in hand, to join his old friend and comrade for one last song. It was quite a scene -- no words can really describe what we experienced.

I suppose it's unfair to compare last night's show to past shows that I've seen. I'm not sure any really come close, or ever will for that matter. It was THAT GOOD. At the end of the day, I realize that this is as close to The Last Waltz as I'll ever get...and I can live with that.


Ace Cowboy said...

Nice review...I also thought this was a monumental event worthy of all the praise it's been getting. If you wanna read an even fluffier fanboy review, I threw something up this morning over on Hidden Track:

What a magical evening...

mt2ri said...

Still remember this awesome show, traveled from RI to NYC on a whim and it was unbelievable. So sorry Levon and Allen are gone now.