The year is 1976 and The Band is getting ready to call it quits. (For the first time anyway). After what seemed like umpteen years on the road playing in everything from honky-tonk saloons to huge gatherings like Watkins Glen (with the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers) that drew upwards of 600,000 people and being referred to as “Bob Dylan’s back up band, who could blame them? Life on the road and bitter internal squabbles tinged with a dying of the creative process was all it took.
So, on Thanksgiving night they decided to get some old friends together and throw a party for the ages at San Francisco’s infamous Winterland Theater. It was, after all, the place where they first cut their teeth so many years ago. I think I heard somewhere along the line that turkey dinners were supposed to be provided to all those in attendance. I don’t know if that’s true or not but either way, rock history was about to be made.
How’s this for a list of performers?
The Staple Singers
The horn section was led by one Allen Toussaint and Martin Scorsese was there to capture the goings on on film for posterity (and later a movies) sake.
Now, you can call me an old fart and such but that’s quite a gathering of talent on one stage. Here’s what they played…
1. Theme From The Last Waltz (with Orchestra)
2. Up On Cripple Creek - The Band
3. The Shape I'm In - The Band
4. It Makes No Difference - The Band
5. Who Do You Love - Ronnie Hawkins
6. Life Is A Carnival The Band
7. Such A Night Dr. John
8. Down South In New Orleans
9. Mystery Train
- The Band
10. Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters
11. Stagefright - The Band
12. Further On Up The Road – Eric Clapton
13. Ophelia – The Band
14. Helpless – Neil Young
– Joni Mitchell
16. Dry Your Eyes – Neil Diamond
17. Tura Lura Lura - Van Morrison
18. Caravan – Van Morrison
19. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - The Band
20. Baby Let Me Follow You Down – Bob Dylan
21. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) – Bob Dylan
22. Forever Young – Bob Dylan
23. Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Reprise) – Bob Dylan
24. I Shall Be Released - (Everybody)
25. The Well – The Band
26. Evangeline – The Band
with Emmylou Harris
27. Out Of The Blue – The Band
28. The Weight - The Band
with the Staple Singers
29. The Last Waltz Refrain - Orchestra
30. Theme From The Last Waltz – Orchestra
If you haven’t seen the movie, you should, Scorsese captures the concert in a way that I’ve never seen one captured on film before. The interviews are pretty revealing and he even manages to get a shot at famed promoter Billy Graham lurking off to the side of the stage as the performance goes on.
A huge ten on the borgometer.