In the modern world of live concerts, some shows are just plain fun. Others are technically amazing, displaying a band or individual performer’s instrumental prowess . Some are simply kick-ass rock outings, allowing fans to enjoy their favorite songs from an artist’s catalog. Once in a while, a show comes along that combines all of those elements, while adding a powerful, emotional connection between the music, the artist and the audience, creating a truly transformative experience. The Last Waltz Tour, featuring Warren Haynes, Lukas Nelson, and Jamey Johnson, which stopped off at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford on November 8, was definitely one of those shows. The tour pays tribute to the final live performance from the original lineup of the legendary group The Band. The concert took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1976, and included guest stars such as Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond and Joni Mitchell. The show was immortalized on record (and on film) as The Last Waltz. The filmed version was directed by none other than Martin Scorsese, and is widely considered one of the best concert movies ever made.
|Lukas Nelson, Warren Haynes & Jamey Johnson|
For The Last Waltz Tour, Warren Haynes (of Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule fame), along with Lukas Nelson (Willie’s son) and Jamey Johnson, team up with a talented array of musicians to perform the songs from the original show. This wasn’t just a concert, it was a truly transcendent, beautiful evening of marvelous music. The show opened with a joyous version of “Up On Cripple Creek” followed by a rollicking take on“The Shape I’m In” featuring outstanding work from Haynes, Nelson and Johnson. What followed this fantastic opening salvo was an almost three hour celebration of the music of The Band, brilliantly performed by an outstanding ensemble. Jamey Johnson contributed a passionate lead vocal on a wonderful version of “Georgia On My Mind," which was an early highlight of the show. Guest stars Cyril Neville and Dave Malone (of The Radiators) brought a deep New Orleans vibe to jam-tastic run-throughs of “Who Do You Love” and “Down South in New Orleans.” Neville and Malone re-appeared several times throughout the evening, adding additional depth to an already spectacular band.
Guitarist Bob Margolin, who appeared at the original Last Waltz concert with Muddy Waters, joined the group for blues-drenched versions of "Mannish Boy" and "Further On Up The Road." There was brilliant, often searing guitar from Haynes, Nelson and Johnson, and excellent backing from acclaimed producer-musician Don Was, John Medeski on keyboards, Terence Higgins on drums and Mark Mullins on trombone, as well as The Levee Horns. The set list was filled with fantastic versions of songs such as “Stage Fright” and “It Makes No Difference,” as well as "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)." The night featured one astounding performance after another. Lukas Nelson led a breathtaking take on Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young," while Johnson anchored an emotional run through of the CSNY classic, “Helpless.” There was also an incandescent version of Dylan's “I Shall Be Released.” Of course, the enthusiastic audience of baby boomers (as well as a number of younger fans) were brought to their feet by “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “The Weight." And everyone put on their dancing shoes for "Ophelia" and Van Morrison's "Caravan."
|Cyril Neville and Dave Malone join the lineup|
By the time the the encore, consisting of the Dr. John standard "Such A Night" and the Marvin Gaye cover "Baby, Don't You Do It," came around, the audience had been rocked, rolled, mesmerized, transported and musically sanctified. This unforgettable show was a shared experience that will stay with those of us who attended for a long time to come. It’s obvious that these supremely talented musicians enjoy playing together, and also have a deep and abiding love for this classic music, which clearly resonated with the audience. The Band were one of the groups that helped popularize the Americana sound, combining elements of country, rock, jazz, and soul to create memorable albums such as Music From Big Pink. Truly great songs stands the test of time, and this show honors the legacy of this outstanding music. I truly enjoyed this concert, and highly recommend it. If you're a fan of the Band or any of the artists that are part of The Last Waltz Tour, this is a not to be missed experience. For more info on the tour, you can follow this link: https://blackbirdpresents.com/concert/the-last-waltz-tour-2019/.