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Concert Film

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A genre as old as the sound movie itself.note  Filming a concert by a musical artist, group or any other sort of performer(s) (comedians, acrobats, stage musicals,...) is essential for many entertainers. It shows off their skills and gives the fans who weren't able to watch a concert in person to get a grisp of the experience they missed. Audience Participation and a Concert Climax are also a huge part of these events. The concert film may be accompanied by a CD capturing the event for people who rather listen to it than watch it.


Concert films are sometimes considered a Cult Classic or a Cult Soundtrack, because the respective genre or artist is usually mostly interesting for fans themselves. Though a well made concert movie can also attract new fans. Concert films were popular during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when video footage of musical artists was pretty scarce since not many people owned a video recorder to watch and tape concert broadcasts from TV. The arrival of MTV and other music video networks in the 1980s shifted the focus more towards short music videos and less towards entire concerts. Since then most concert movies are usually sold direct-to-video.


  • Baby Snakes (1979): Stars Frank Zappa.
  • Big Fun in the Big Town (1986): A Dutch TV documentary about hiphop music, interviewing many pioneers like Run–D.M.C., Doug E Fresh, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, LL Cool J, The Last Poets and Schoolly D. Became a cult classic in the Netherlands and was made available on DVD worldwide in 2012.
  • Buena Vista Social Club (1999): Documentary and concert film, directed by Wim Wenders about the Cuban band of the same name.
  • Concert For Bangladesh (1972): A benefit concert, organized by George Harrison.
  • The trope maker for feature films is Concert Magic from 1948, featuring violinist Yehudi Mehunin. However, musical performances had been a frequent premise for short films for years. See Jammin' the Blues below.
  • Devotional (1993) by Depeche Mode which contains many of the tracks off their then latest album Songs of Faith and Devotion and many tracks off previous albums arranged in their manner of 1993.
  • Does Humor Belong in Music? (1986): A registration of a Frank Zappa concert, intercut with some interview footage.
  • Don't Look Back (1967): A documentary/concert movie about Bob Dylan; often considered the first modern concert film.
  • Divine Madness (1980): Stars Bette Midler.
  • Elvis: That's the Way It Is (1970) and Elvis on Tour (1972): The first film goes from rehearsals to opening night of one of his early Las Vegas hotel shows. The latter film (which included some editing work by Martin Scorsese) documents a tour in the Southern US.
  • Gimme Shelter (1970): Stars The Rolling Stones. Infamous for capturing a murder in the audience.
  • The Grateful Dead Movie (1977): A document of the Grateful Dead's October 1974 "farewell shows", featuring an animated introduction and interviews with the band members between songs. The band took a break for all of 1975 and half of 1976, and intended roadshow screenings of the movie to replace them on the road in the interim. Due to editing issues, it wasn't released until June 1977, by which point they were already back out on tour.
  • Heima (2007): A documentary/concert movie about Sigur Rós.
  • Jammin' the Blues (1944): Ten-minute short film of a jam session featuring a murderer's row of 1940s jazz musicians.
  • Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960): Jazz concert movie from 1958.
  • The Last Waltz (1978): Famous film of the last concert played by The Band (the original lineup anyway, as they later reunited). Featured an impressive array of guest stars that included Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan.
  • Let It Be (1970): Part concert movie, part studio documentary starring The Beatles.
  • Live Aid (1985): 24 hours footage of many rock artists for the benefit of starving people in Ethiopia.
  • Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1970): Concert film depicting roots-rocker Joe Cocker's rushed tour in front of an oversized band.
  • Michael Jackson's This Is It (2009): Stars Michael Jackson during the recordings of what would have been his farewell tour, but never came about.
  • Monsieur Pointu (1975): A deeply odd stop-motion pixilation version. Paul Cormier, aka "Monsieur Pointu" the famous violinist, plays his violin while the visual effects grow increasingly bizarre.
  • Monterey Pop (1967): The first rock concert movie, filmed at Monterey Pop (1967).

  • 9 Songs (2004): Part Erotic Film, part concert movie featuring several British rock bands.
  • Parade (1974): A variation on the format as it is actually a filmed performance of a circus on an indoor stage. Conforms to the basic structure of a live recording of a show, however, and there are some musical acts.
  • Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1972): Stars Pink Floyd performing at the Pompeii amphitheater to an audience of zero. Noted for its stylistic influences on later films in the genre and for its capture of the band in the waning days of their pre-The Dark Side of the Moon career.
  • Renaldo and Clara (1978): Bob Dylan's attempt at filmmaking is a four-hour hodgepodge of documentary and staged improvisational scenes, but is centered around extensive footage from the first leg of his Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1975.
  • Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979): Live action comedy film with many rock concert scenes. Stars The Ramones.
  • The Song Remains the Same (1973): Rockumentary/concert film starring Led Zeppelin.
  • Space Is the Place (1974): Spiritual blaxploitation movie featuring Sun Ra with several scenes where he performs along with his musicians.
  • Stop Making Sense (1984): Stars Talking Heads during the tour for their Speaking in Tongues album; contains all but three songs from that album, plus plenty of their older songs (both commercial hits and fan-favorites) and pieces by frontman David Byrne and side-project Tom Tom Club. Noted for its minimalist, oner-heavy cinematography, and for capturing the band at what critics and fans consider their peak.
  • This Is Spın̈al Tap (1984): Despite being a mockumentary about a heavy metal rock band it features a lot of live footage.
  • Woodstock (1970): The most famous concert movie of all time. Shows every huge 1960s band and artist (well, except for the obvious holdouts) and shows how the audience experienced it too.


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