Our best and worst concert movies


SMALL PRINT:NEXT TUESDAY, the most anticipated concert film of recent times, LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up And Play The Hits (below) will fill cinemas across the UK and Ireland. To mark it, let’s look at the best and worst of gigs on screen.


5 The Last Waltz

Directed by Martin Scorsese on seven 35mm cameras, this film of The Band’s farewell on Thanksgiving 1976 has the chops to be one of the greatest concert films ever, if the sidebar interviews weren’t overdone.

4 Sign O’ The Times

Sometimes you don’t need storylines. Having dispensed with the pomp of Purple Rain Prince and co are at their energetic best here.

3 Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York

For most people, Nirvana were the angst-ridden grunge noiseniks of the 1990s, but this (almost) acoustic session featuring The Meat Puppets stripped the band to its fragile heart. Kurt Cobain requested the set be dressed to evoke a funeral, and took his own life less than six months later.

2 Gimme Shelter

Shine A Light directed by Scorsese gets plenty of props, but who wants to see a band play when they’re not at their peak? The 1969 Rolling Stones tour, which ended in tragedy at Altamont, managed to capture a wild band in wilder surroundings.

1 Stop Making Sense

There’s a reason people keep coming back to this film. Because it’s the best. All hail Jonathan Demme. All hail Talking Heads.


5 Rattle & Hum

Yes, there are some stellar live performances, but it is ruined by the laugh-out-loud seriousness with which the band take themselves, and Larry Mullen crying at Elvis’s grave. Sorry, lads.

4 Live 8

How to ruin the legacy of the raucous and remarkable pre-internet achievements of Live Aid? Update it. Low points include Matchbox Twenty and Adam Levine muscling in on Stevie Wonder’s set and Pete Doherty trying to play Children Of The Revolution.

3 Bullet In A Bible

‘American Idiot’ was Green Day’s finest hour, but unfortunately no band has milked a classic album more than them, complete with a dodgy musical and an even dodgier follow up. The concert film was shot at the vibe-vacuum that is the Milton Keynes Bowl.

2 Woodstock 99

Marred by rape, violence, fires and Limp Bizkit, the 30th anniversary manages to succeed only in being everything the original wasn’t. Fail.

1 Anything in 3D

Whether it’s Justin Bieber’s tween pop-sexuality version of Barney the Dinosaur, the Glee concert movie, or Katy Perry’s Part Of Me, modern concert films are wrecked by 3D.

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