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Noteworthy's Favorite Concert Film Moments

Greetings everybody. I'm Ivan, the host of Noteworthy (Mondays, 6PM-7PM) back with another post. With Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense getting an IMAX run, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour dominating at the box office and the upcoming Renaissance movie from Beyoncé, it's safe to say there's currently a renewed interest in concert films. The genre is a rite-of-passage for any legend in the making and is loaded with great movies. In any classic concert film, there's always at least one moment where the performance becomes transcendent and moves you so much that you begin to envy those who were in the audience. Here are my top five such moments.


5. Joni Mitchell sings "Coyote" with The Band from The Last Waltz (1978)

Dir. - Martin Scorcese



There's no shortage of star power and guitar heroics in this epic final concert from The Band, so it's saying a lot that this subdued break from all the flashiness is what does it for me time and time again. Add a bit more weight behind the rhythm section than what's found on the studio version and it becomes one of the most engaging moments of The Last Waltz.


4. Aretha Franklin moves the entire congregation during "Amazing Grace" from Amazing Grace (2018)

Dir. - Sydney Pollack



It's really all about how Aretha finds new ways to stir emotion out of one of the most ubiquitous songs ever written. Each vocal run is a plea for your mortal soul to find salvation. The proof is in the reactions of the choir behind her, who eventually refuse to stay seated, and Rev. James Cleveland, who had to get up from piano in the midst of tears and find a spot to compose himself.


3. Jill Scott and Erykah Badu combine forces for "You Got Me" from Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2005)

Dir. - Michel Gondry



The short version of the history behind The Roots' classic "You Got Me" goes like this: Jill Scott co-wrote the song and was meant to feature on the hook. The record company jumped in and wanted a bigger name. In comes Erykah Badu and the result is a Grammy for The Roots. You'd think there might be some bitterness there, but none was to be detected at all when they both shared the stage. We're just left with two titans of soul who knew how to complement each other and bend and twist a familiar song enough to make it feel brand new all over again.


2. Sheila E's epic drum solo in Sign o'the Times (1987)

Dir. - Prince, David Hogan & Albert Magnoli



My favorite of all the Prince backing bands is the line-up that accompanied him for the Sign O' The Times tour. It's that perfect bridge between the pop grandeur of The Revolution and the hard-hitting New Power Generation. The cover of Charlie Parker's "Now's The Time" is a great example of the musicianship on display as everyone gets their time in the spotlight and is capped by a ferocious drum solo from Sheila E. Even if she hadn't been a well-established star at this point, I can imagine that the crowd would have still went wild for this.



1. Bill Withers makes you feel his pain on "Hope She'll Be Happier" from Soul Power (2008)

Dir. - Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte



There's one camera that is about as close as humanly possible to Bill Withers without taking a deep dive into his pores. Every drop of sweat, every bit of passion is on display here in one of the most quietly powerful performances I've ever seen captured on film. You could close your eyes and still be stirred, but it's that choice to bring us so intimately into Withers' world as he loses himself in the song that makes it essential viewing.


Listen to Noteworthy, the most eclectic radio show in Chicago, live on Mondays from 6PM-7PM CT at uicradio.net and the Radio FX app.



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