Celebrating the anniversary of The Band’s legendary final concert, Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman sees Seaform Green attempt to recreate the magic.
40 years ago, The Band performed a final concert with their original lineup at San Francisco’s legendary Winterland Ballroom.
After years on the road the Canadian country rockers, led by the disillusioned Robbie Robertson, turned their farewell into a no-expense spared Thanksgiving celebration featuring The Band acting as sidemen to a whole array of stars from Bob Dylan to Neil Young via Van Morrison and Neil Diamond.
The gig has gone down in history as a moving epitaph to the hippie dream and thanks to Martin Scorcese’s classic documentary and concert film, The Last Waltz’s performances are seared on the memories of any rock fan who’s ever considered growing a beard or wearing corduroy flares.
Sadly, only two members of The Band remain with us so the opportunity to wallow in the glory of Levon Helm’s drumming or the harmonies of Richard Manuel and Rick Danko has been denied the overwhelming majority who have come to The Band’s music through Dylan or their rightful position as godfather’s of Americana and an influence on the likes of Wilco, the Black Crowes and the Hold Steady.
Until now that is. 40 years to the day since The Last Waltz was performed, Irish psych folkers Seafoam Green have given themselves the impressive target of recreating the night using a succession of guests to relive the original’s cavalcade of talent.
Thankfully as the band take to the stage, it becomes clear this is more homage than tribute. While Seafoam Green, led by the extravagantly hirsute Dave O’Grady certainly look the part, they are not actually dressing up as Robbie, Garth and Levon or attempting Canadian accents.
From the off, it quickly becomes clear that O’Grady and chums are some serious musicians. Adrian Gautrey is possibly the man of the match as he sprinkles his twanging guitar over the likes of The Weight and Rag Mama Rag but the harmonies are beautiful too despite the absence of a singing drummer. Jez Wing does a marvelous job on organ too.
As for the guests, a number stood out. Stairs frontman Edgar Jones marches on stage and within seconds was owning Dr John’s Such A Night with his typically throaty scat vocals. Elsewhere, Scouse troubadour Nick Ellis strapped on the electric guitar for a fine approximation of Dylan’s Baby Let Me Follow You Down while Allesandro’s Rod Stewart-esque singing on Morrison’s Caravan was one of the highlights of the night.
As the show comes to a close with a celebratory take on the funky Don’t Do It, the sold out crowd are on their feet, clapping along with the accompanying grins betraying what a thoroughly special night this has been and hoping that this may not be the last time we see this show hit the heights. Goodnight. Goodbye.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Andrew Ab