Review & Photos | The Complete Last Waltz | Port Chester

“Life Is A Carnival” had some frenetic, haphazard jerky dancing by Guster's Ryan Miller, the legendary Nels Cline of Wilco did a superior rendition of Clapton's "Further on up the Road" and Eric Johnson, who aesthetically reminded one of a hip Clark Kent, led a boisterous and inspired “Caravan.” It was a treat to hear “Acadian Driftwood” live - a classic Band tune that was not included in the film - a dimension added to it as the Parkington Sisters danced while playing their four violins on the rare gem as Marco joined in on the accordion. Another added bonus was the live inclusion of “The Weight," as the concert film had shared a studio version with the Staple Singers instead of the live one. The Band were known for their distinctive harmonies and this incarnation did not disappoint by providing luscious ones as the crowd participated in the octave singing as it built into a screaming energetic chorus, “Fan…Fan..Fan!!” With so many spectacular familiar classic tunes, one couldn’t help but marvel how refreshing it was to witness live and in full dimensions, rather than just through a TV screen or speakers.

The veritable who's who of the rock and jam scene provided over three hours of non-stop music that left avid music lovers satiated and content. Props must go out to a man who almost never left the stage for four straight hours, bassist Dave Dreiwitz, who was only occasionally and effectively spelled by Jon Shaw towards the end, and provided a subtle yet effective backbone throughout the show’s performances. Before the encore, a voice onstage exclaimed, "Thanks for letting us put this show on" echoing the sentiments of all in attendance. Metzger and Chakour took us home with a delicious harmony on Marvin Gaye's "Don't Do It," where Alecia seized the opportunity to show off her majestic vocals and Marco used a sweeping style on the organ reminiscent at times of Hudson. It was also refreshing to hear Russo's vocals turned up on “Don't Do It” which included a scorching guitar solo by Cline to conclude the show on a literal high note.

It is ironic how incredibly successful The Last Waltz remains and the place it has carved for itself in rock music history. At one time, Levon Helm declared it as "the biggest fuckin' rip-off that ever happened to The Band" as they were never paid for the production. Unfortunately, the only one ultimately disappointed with The Last Waltz experience was Helm who thought Scorsese had made his close friend, Robbie Robertson, the star/band leader through close-ups and extended camera time. Robertson would meet Scorsese on the concert film and subsequently go on to collaborate on seven Hollywood films to date.

The Complete Last Waltz performance did not set out to mimic or even emulate the original, but rather to pay homage through re-interpretation. Many at the Capitol Theatre were clearly having fun at a celebratory fest that felt just like the original, but it is bittersweet because it was like saying goodbye to The Band all over again. Nothing can match the firepower of The Band's performance and our nostalgia for it, but this all-star lineup is the closest one can get to capturing the magic of an event forever frozen in time, leaving us to readily relive their isolated slice of historic Americana (ironic considering The Band mostly hailed from Canada). I'm confident that the founding members of The Band would have been elated with this reenactment. It represented everything that modern day Thanksgiving stands for - love, family, history and superior music.

Setlist: Last Waltz Theme, Up on Cripple Creek, The Shape I'm In, Life is a Carnival, W.S. Walcott Medicine Show, Georgia on my Mind, Ophelia, Rag Mama Rag, King Harvest, Who Do You Love, Mystery Train, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Stage Fright, It Makes No Difference, Such a Night, Down South in New Orleans, The Wheel's on Fire, All Our Past Times, Further On Up the Road, Helpless, Four Strong Winds, Coyote, Furry Sings the Blues, Dry Your Eyes, Mannish Boy, Caledonia< Tura Lura Lura, Caravan Set II: The Genetic Method, Chest Fever, Evangeline, Acadian Driftwood, The Weight, Baby Let Me Follow You, Hazel, I Don't Believe You, Forever Young, Baby Let Me Follow You, I Shall Be Released, Don't Do It

The Players: Nels Cline (Wilco), Alec Qunsworth (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), Jeff Chimenti (Furthur), Joe Russo (Furthur), Marco Benevento, Ryan Miller (Guster), Dave Dreiwitz (Ween), Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit), Nicole Atkins, Cass McCombs, Eric Earley (Blitzen Trapper), Andy Cabic (Vetiver), Sam Cohen (Yellowbirds), Stuart Bogie (Superhuman Happiness), Scott Metzger (Wolf!), Eric Johnson (Fruit Bats), Brian Kantor (Yellowbirds), Alecia Chakour (Warren Haynes Band), Jordan McClean (Antibalas), Martin Perna (Antibalas), Jon Shaw (Cass McCombs), Jocie Adams (The Low Adams), John Altieri (Red Baraat), Josh Kaufman (Yellowbirds), Jeremy Black (Apollo Sunshine), John Roderick (The Long Winters), Marc Black, Binky Griptite (Dap Kings), Sean Aylward (Hello Echo), Kenny Siegel, Matt Trowbridge, The Parkington Sisters, Raymond Mason, Josh Lucas, Colin Broderick

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[Published on: 12/4/13]

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