One of the few performances/pieces of art that gives me the chills every time I watch it.
A lot of memories are soundtracked to The Last Waltz. I watched the film, listened to the album, read about the concert so much that it became mythical; I researched every detail that was available: production notes, rumors, camera movements, commentary, what guests did just before and just after they were on stage.
I remember reading a column, Rolling Stone used to have a Revisits section at the end of their reviews that it might have been from, that expressed the urgency of all the performances during The Last Waltz. The Band was breaking up, there was a lot of inner turmoil around it, Levon Helm maybe being the most vocal and adamant about not breaking up. The writer describes being in the ballroom, watching The Band perform, seeing them put absolutely everything they had into these songs, because they know it would be the last time they performed them together.
It leaves you with an almost unsettling mixture of feelings. The excitement you feel of watching a band perform so cohesively is intercut with feelings of longing or sadness. And the ability to see it all in Levon Helm’s performance. I don’t think you have to do all the research and obsessing to notice it. Helm’s performance is just so good.
It’s the type of feeling that takes a tremendous amount of talent to describe, and I certainly don’t possess it.