Concert film

A concert film or concert movie, is a type of documentary film, the subject of which is an extended live performance or concert by either a musician[1] or a stand-up comedian.[2]

Early history

The earliest known concert film is the 1948 picture, Concert Magic. This concert features virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) at the Charlie Chaplin Studios in 1947. Together with various artists he performed classical and romantic works of famous composers such as Beethoven, Wieniawski, Bach, Paganini and others.

The earliest known jazz concert film is the 1960 documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day. The film was recorded during the fifth annual Newport Jazz Festival.[3] The earliest known rock concert film was the T.A.M.I. Show, which featured acts such as The Beach Boys, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and the Rolling Stones.[4]

Concert Magic
Poster for Concert Magic in 1948 at the Towne Cinema in Toronto, Canada

One of popular music's most ground-breaking concert films is Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1971), directed by Adrian Maben, in which Pink Floyd perform a short set of songs inside the amphitheatre of Pompeii without an audience (save for the recording crew). Although filmed in 1971 the film is still regarded as one of the most important concert films ever made.


The term was first used by Bill Drake in the 1969 History of Rock & Roll radio broadcast and is a portmanteau of "rock" and "documentary".[5][6] The term was subsequently used to describe concert films containing appearances by multiple artists.[7][8] In 1976, the term was used by the promoters of the live musical production Beatlemania which documented the evolving career of The Beatles.[9] The 1984 mockumentary film, This Is Spinal Tap, notably parodied the rockumentary genre.[10]


  1. ^ Sandahl, Linda J. (1987). Rock films: A viewer's guide to three decades of musicals, concerts, documentaries and soundtracks 1955-1986. Facts on File, Inc. p. 7. ISBN 0-8160-1281-4. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  2. ^ Bailey, Jason (4 April 2016). "Glenn Ligon Deconstructs Richard Pryor's Stand-Up". Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  3. ^ Eil, Philip (29 July 2016). "This 1960 Jazz Film Shaped Concert Documentaries as We Know Them | NOISEY". Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  4. ^ Richards, Kevin (16 December 2009). "Legendary T.A.M.I. Show Featuring James Brown, The Rolling Stones, and More Coming To DVD « American Songwriter". Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  5. ^ "The Reel Top 40 Radio Repository - The History of Rock and Roll Demo". Retrieved 2009-06-15.
  6. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (April 5, 1969). "'Rockumentary' Radio Milestone". Rolling Stone (30). p. 9.
  7. ^ Aletti, Vince (August 31, 1972). "Our Latin Thing". Rolling Stone (116). p. 42.
  8. ^ Landau, Jon (July 19, 1973). "'Let the Good Times Roll' indeed". Rolling Stone (139). pp. 62–63.
  9. ^ Spires, Shari (December 26, 1980). "A 'Rockumentary' About the Beatles Comes to Sunrise". The Palm Beach Post.
  10. ^ Times, Los Angeles (9 May 2013). "'This Is Spinal Tap' LP to be reissued June 11 -- on black vinyl". Retrieved 19 August 2016.
9012Live (video)

9012Live is a concert film featuring the English rock band Yes, recorded at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on 28 and 29 September 1984 on the band's tour in support of their eleventh studio album, 90125 (1983). It mostly features performances from 90125, which was their highest selling album. The band consists of singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin, keyboardist Tony Kaye, bassist Chris Squire, and drummer Alan White. The film includes computer special effects from Charlex.

9012Live was released on VHS and aired on MTV in November 1985 as a companion release to the live album 9012Live: The Solos. It was released on DVD in 2006 with bonus footage and a director's cut without the Charlex effects and 1950s stock footage, including an opening and closing clip of the 1952 Edison Electric appliance promotional film series "Young Man's Fancy." At the end of the concert film credits, the clip from "Young Man's Fancy" has the quote "The Rhythm of Big Generators", which would preview the name of Yes' next album, Big Generator."

9012Live was also future Academy Award-winner Steven Soderbergh's first directorial effort. He and the band members were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Long Form for the release.

David Bowie filmography

The late English musician and actor David Bowie (1947–2016) held leading roles in several feature films, including The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) (for which he won a Saturn Award for Best Actor), Just a Gigolo (1978), Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), The Hunger (1983), Labyrinth (1986), and The Linguini Incident (1991).

Films in which he appeared in a supporting role or cameo include The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Zoolander (2001).

Bowie also appeared on several television series including Extras, Dream On, and the horror anthology series The Hunger. He won a Daytime Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Special Class Special in 2003 for Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The 1970s with David Bowie (AMC).

Bowie was featured in a number of documentaries, films, and videos focusing on his career. He also appeared frequently in documentaries about other musicians.

Get Back (film)

Get Back is a 1991 concert film starring Paul McCartney that documents The Paul McCartney World Tour of 1989–1990. The film was directed by Richard Lester, in a return to his Beatles-related work, and was released by Carolco Pictures and New Line Cinema, through the Seven Arts joint venture.

Let's Play Two

Let's Play Two is a live album and concert film by American alternative rock band Pearl Jam. The album was released on September 29, 2017, with the concert film being released on November 17, 2017. The footage and songs were recorded at the band's shows at Wrigley Field during their 2016 tour.

Live at the Cavern Club

Live at the Cavern Club is a 1999 concert film starring Paul McCartney. It was filmed on 14 December 1999, during his concert at the Cavern Club, in Liverpool, England, and it was directed by Geoff Wonfor. On stage with McCartney were David Gilmour, Mick Green, Ian Paice, Pete Wingfield, and Chris Hall. The DVD earned Gold status in Australia.

Monty Python Live

This article is about a DVD set. For the 2009 book of the same name, see Monty Python Live!. For the 2014 stage show, see Monty Python Live (Mostly).Monty Python Live is a two-disc DVD set featuring three TV specials and a live concert film of the British comedy group Monty Python. The set includes:

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl

Parrot Sketch Not Included – 20 Years of Monty Python

Monty Python Live at Aspen

The first episode of Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus

Neil Young Trunk Show

Neil Young Trunk Show is a 2009 documentary and concert film by Jonathan Demme, featuring Neil Young.

It is, along with Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006) and Neil Young Journeys (2012), part of a Neil Young trilogy being created by Demme.

Shadows and Light (Joni Mitchell album)

Shadows and Light is a 1980 live double album by the Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. It was recorded at the Santa Barbara Bowl in September 1979 on Mitchell's Mingus tour. A film of the concert was also released on VHS, LaserDisc and DVD.

Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense is a 1984 American concert film featuring a live performance by Talking Heads. Directed by Jonathan Demme, it was shot over the course of four nights at Hollywood's Pantages Theater in December 1983, as the group was touring to promote their new album Speaking in Tongues. The film is the first made entirely using digital audio techniques. The band raised the budget of $1.2 million themselves.

The film has been hailed by Leonard Maltin as "one of the greatest rock movies ever made", and "the finest concert film" according to Robert Christgau, while Pauline Kael of The New Yorker described it as "close to perfection".

The Park Is Mine (concert film)

The Park Is Mine is a live concert video released by Pulp in November 1998, following the release of their album This Is Hardcore. It was recorded at Finsbury Park, London on 25 July 1998. The whole concert was later included on the Ultimate Live DVD.

Three Sides Live (film)

Three Sides Live is a 1982 concert film featuring the English rock band Genesis. It was released in support of the band's same-titled live double album released in June 1982. Directed by Stuart Orme, the film features live performances from two shows during the band's 1981 tour of Europe and North America in support of their studio album Abacab. The shows are from 28 and 29 November 1981 at the Savoy Theatre and Nassau Coliseum, New York, respectively. The film includes interviews footage shot backstage and the group travelling with the crew and families. Some of the featured songs are incomplete due to editing.

Three Sides Live was released in 1982 for Betamax and VHS, followed by a laserdisc release in October 1991. It was released on DVD with 5.1 surround sound in November 2009 as part of the band's concert film box set Genesis Movie Box 1981–2007. It was released on Blu-ray disc on 4 November 2014 after a duplicate of the original 16mm film was restored.

U2 3D

U2 3D is a 2008 American-produced 3D concert film featuring rock band U2 performing during the Vertigo Tour in 2006. The film contains performances of 14 songs, including tracks from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004), the album supported by the tour. The concert footage includes political and social statements made during the shows. It is the band's second feature film, following their 1988 rockumentary Rattle and Hum. Among several cinematic firsts, U2 3D was the first live-action digital 3D film.

The project was created to experiment with a new type of 3D film technology pioneered by producer Steve Schklair. After considering shooting American football games in 3D, Schklair's company 3ality Digital decided to create a concert film with U2. The band were hesitant to participate, but agreed to the project mainly as a technological experiment rather than a profit-making venture. Although set in Buenos Aires, U2 3D was shot at seven concerts across Latin America, and two in Australia. The film's complex setup involved shooting with up to 18 3D cameras simultaneously and capturing the footage digitally.

After a preview screening at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, U2 3D premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and had its limited theatrical release in late January 2008, followed by its wide release the following month. The film was distributed by National Geographic Entertainment and was only released in IMAX 3D and digital 3D theaters. It peaked at number 19 at the United States box office, and earned over $26 million worldwide, ranking as one of the highest-grossing concert films. It received widely positive reviews, with critics praising the 3D technology and innovation. U2 3D won several awards, and its reception convinced some of the creators that the project marked a paradigm shift in filmmaking.

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