On Thanksgiving night 1976, the five men known as the BandRobbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuelstepped off the stage at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom, never to share one again. Originally, the show was only meant to put an end to the group's touring days, with studio albums still to follow, but it wasn't to be. Reunion tours followed in the early '80s with all but Robertson, but the 1986 suicide of Manuel put to rest any hopes that the original quintet would ever return. Martin Scorsese's incredible film of the Band's final show, The Last Waltz, shows the group went out in style, however, inviting friends like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Muddy Waters to help send them on their way. While some of the guest performances aren't particularly engaging, some are transcendent, especially Neil Young's gorgeous ballad "Helpless." It's the Band's own songs that are the centerpiece here, though, and while they clearly show signs of road-weariness in the film's interviews, it doesn't show on the stage, and the beautiful 35mm film and superb sound work capture the evening beautifully.
Fri., Jan. 6; Sat., Jan. 7