The Band Performed At Final Day Of Woodstock On This Date In 1969

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On August 17, 1969 Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson played a set at the famed Woodstock Festival just months after their first show as “The Band.” The 11-song performance featured such gems from their lone album at the time, 1968’s Music From Big Pink, as “Tears Of Rage,” “The Weight,” “Chest Fever” and “I Shall Be Released.”

The Band took the stage at the Bethel, New York festival around 10 p.m. on Sunday night after passing storms led to a delay of several hours before the evening’s performances started. Yasgur’s Farm was in rough shape by that point in the weekend as recounted by Helm in his This Wheel’s On Fire memoir. “You kind of felt you were going into a war,” he wrote. “There weren’t any dressing rooms because they’d been turned into emergency clinics . . . The crowd was real tired and a little unhealthy.”

The conditions at the festival didn’t stop The Band from turning in an impressive performance. “After three days of people being hammered by weather and music, it was hard to get a take on the mood,” Robbie Robertson told Rolling Stone in 1989 as recounted by Andy Greene. “We played a slow, haunting set of mountain music. We lived up there, near Woodstock, and it seemed kind of appropriate from our point of view. We did songs like ‘Long Black Veil’ and ‘The Weight,’ and everything had a bit of reverence to it. Even the faster songs sounded almost religious.”

While The Band’s set wasn’t featured in the original Woodstock concert film, footage of a few songs from the set have surfaced as part of deluxe editions of the movie. Here’s a look at “The Weight” and “Tears Of Rage” from The Band’s performance at Woodstock 46 years ago today as well as audio of the entire set:

[The Weight]

[Tears of Rage]

[Full Set Audio]

  • 00:16 “Chest Fever” (Robbie Robertson)
  • 05:43 “Baby Don’t You Do It” (Holland—Dozier—Holland)
  • 10:05 “Tears of Rage” (Bob Dylan, Richard Manuel)
  • 15:42 “We Can Talk” (Manuel)
  • 18:55 “Long Black Veil” (Marijohn Wilkin, Danny Dill)
  • 22:03 “Don’t Ya Tell Henry” (Dylan)
  • 25:49 “Ain’t No More Cane on this Brazos” (trad., aragment by The Band)
  • 30:28 “This Wheel’s On Fire” (Dylan, Rick Danko)
  • 34:21 “I Shall Be Released” (Dylan)
  • 38:10 “The Weight” (Robertson)
  • 43:15 “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever” (Ivy Jo Hunter and Stevie Wonder)

[Originally Published: August 17, 2016]